Jokes and Targets

Jokes and Targets

Christie Davies
Distribution: World
Publication date: 05/23/2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22302-9
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Jokes and Targets takes up an appealing and entertaining topic—the social and historical origins of jokes about familiar targets such as rustics, Jewish spouses, used car salesmen, and dumb blondes. Christie Davies explains why political jokes flourished in the Soviet Union, why Europeans tell jokes about American lawyers but not about their own lawyers, and why sex jokes often refer to France rather than to other countries. One of the world’s leading experts on the study of humor, Davies provides a wide-ranging and detailed study of the jokes that make up an important part of everyday conversation.

Author Bio

Christie Davies is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Reading, UK. He was president of the International Society for Humor Studies in 2008–2009. His previous books include Ethnic Humor around the World: A Comparative Analysis (IUP, 1990); Jokes and their Relation to Society; and The Mirth of Nations.


“Why are stupidity, cunning, and a variety of sexual proclivities attributed in jokes to particular groups and social classes? Christie Davies reviews a broad range of jokes to formulate an answer.”
 — Elliott Oring, author of Engaging Humor

“A definitive account of what is probably the most numerous and dominant kind of joke, those with a definite target. Davies’ scholarship is the state of the art.”
 — Victor Raskin, author of The Primer of Humor Research

“The most distinguished scholar of ethnic humor in the postwar period . . . has collected and organized a large body of jokes and identified and described the contradictory values or ideas they manipulate.”
 — Paul Lewis, author of Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Why Study Jokes and Targets?
1. Mind over Matter: A General Theory of Jokes about the Stupid and the Canny
2. Blondes, Sex, and the French
3. Jewish Women and Jewish Men
4. Sex between Men: Places, Occupations, and Classes
5. The Great American Lawyer Joke Cycle
6. The Rise of the Soviet Joke and the Fall of the Soviet Union