"I'm not always laughing at the jokes": Humor as a force for disruption

Julie Diane Faulkner, Bronwyn T Williams

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Humor in popular culture plays with our perceptions and sense of dislocation. The inherently ambiguous logic of humor allows for multiple interpretations of social phenomena, and constructs the world as arbitrary, multiple, and tenuous (Mulkay, 1988). At the same time, humor is one of the central elements of much of what young people find appealing in popular culture. Exploring the potential of humor to interrogate cultural assumptions, Australian and American students participated in a cross-cultural television study. The student cohorts then communicated on line, developing their reading of the sitcom in a cross-cultural forum. Their responses highlight the disruption to accepted patterns of social order that the play upon form, or parody, delivers. Through exploring 'insider' and 'outsider' readings of a television parody, this chapter explores how humorous conventions function to reflexively position readers, and thus invite critical readings of popular and engaging texts. It also examines broader questions of the role of the US in producing and distributing popular culture, and how readers might find creative and critical ways to deal with culturally disparate world views.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisrupting Pedagogies in the Knowledge Society
Subtitle of host publicationCountering Conservative Norms with Creative Approaches
EditorsJulie Faulkner
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherIGI Global
Pages108 - 121
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781613504963
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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