In "Engaging Humor", Elliott Oring asks essential questions concerning humorous expression in contemporary society, examining how humor works, why it is employed, and what its messages might be. This provocative book is filled with examples of jokes and riddles that reveal humor to be a meaningful - even significant - form of expression. Oring scrutinizes classic Jewish jokes, frontier humor, racist cartoons, and contemporary joke cycles. He provides alternate ways of thinking about humorous expressions by examining their contexts-not just their contents. Arguing that incongruity and absurdity are key elements of humor, Oring also asserts that humor is a form of play and that playing with ideas does not require us to endorse them. Analyzed contextually and comparatively, humorous expressions emerge as forms of human communication whose implications are startling, engaging, and profound. "Engaging Humor" explores Freud's theory that every thought contains a joke. Oring suggests that racist humor is not rooted in repression and offers a new perspective on other forms of humor seemingly based on hatred, including the recent blonde joke cycle. Oring also addresses the use of jokes as commentaries on the conversations in which they are embedded and considers the similarities in the humorous traditions of the United States, Australia, and Israel - each formed through colonization in modern times.
University of Illinois Press
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