Jokes and Targets

Jokes and Targets

Christie Davies
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/23/2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22302-9
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


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.


“One of the world’s leading experts on the study of humor provides a wide-ranging and detailed study of the jokes that make up an important part of everyday conversation.”

“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

“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

“I recommend Jokes and Targets as a valuable scholarly study where thoughtul analysis is brought to bear on a wide variety of significant materials and the writing style is pleasantly engaging.”
 — Studies in American Humor

“Jokes and Targets deserves a wide readership among persons interested in humour as well as comparative and cultural sociology. Davies shows that cross-national comparison can produce good theory and rigorous analysis, without losing sight of cultural specificities.”
 — Sociology

“ Christie Davies’ Jokes and Targets is a well-written and well-researched book.”
 — H-France Review

“Jokes and Targets, being an excellent piece of scholarship, helps to further clarify why certain targets have become conventional and what are the rules that govern target choice. ”
 — Folklore

“Jokes and Targets is well worth the price of admission. It is a valuable addition to Davies’s existing and esteemed corpus of humor research.”
 — Cultural Analysis

“[J]okes and Targets is an important addition to Davies’ significant previous research on various categories of verbal joke. . . [T]his book, like Davies’ previous work, contains a valuable repertoire of jokes from important contemporary joke cycles. These important and sometimes hard-to-find examples will be a rich source for other scholars. Vol. 11.1 2013”
 — New Directions in Folklore

“Davies maintains a lively, provocative style—refreshing in a genre that is all too commonly soulless. . . . Highly recommended. ”
 — Choice

“Christie Davies has a very good claim to be the scholar to consult on the universal phenomenon of the joke, with the added bonus that he offers plenty of hilarious examples. ”
 — Journal of Contemporary Religion

“This is a serious book, clearly written (no sociological jargon from this sociologist!), about something that makes no political difference . . . but that is, after all, deeply embedded in us to the extent that we are social creatures. ”
 — Chronicles

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

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