Loughborough University
You Must Be Joking03.pdf (300.83 kB)

You must be joking: the sociological critique of humour and comic media

Download (300.83 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2009-12-04, 16:57 authored by Suzanne Lockyer, Michael Pickering
Recent work in the sociological critique of humour and comic media has challenged the notion that humour is an absolute good. In this article we review some of the most interesting work that takes humour seriously and addresses the difficult topic of whether there are ethical limits to humour and media comedy. We outline three main reasons for taking humour seriously and review some of the ways in which humour has been studied sociologically through a consideration of how British ‘alternative’ comedy directed the work of those interested in the limits of humour in relation to gender, race and ethnicity. We also summarise some of the most controversial examples of contemporary media comedy – the comedic performances and personae of Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G and Borat) and the Danish cartoons of the Holy Prophet Muhammad – in order to illustrate the importance of the critical analysis of humour and how the ethics of humour can be applied to comic media.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


LOCKYER, S. and PICKERING, M., 2008. You must be joking: the sociological critique of humour and comic media. Sociology Compass, 2 (3), pp. 808-820.


© Blackwell Publishing Ltd


  • SMUR (Submitted Manuscript Under Review)

Publication date



This article was submitted for publication in the journal Sociology Compass [© Blackwell Publishing Ltd] and the definitive version is available at: www3.interscience.wiley.com




  • en