Punchlines: The Case for Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Humor

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005 - Humor - 181 pages
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The concept of ethnic, racial, and gender humor is as sensitive a subject today as it has ever been; and yet at no time in the past have we had such a quantity of this humor circulating throughout society. We can see the power of such content manifested continually in our culture's films and stand-up comedy routines, as well as on popular TV sitcoms, where Jewish, black, Asian, Hispanic, and gay characters and topics have seemingly become essential to comic scenarios. Though such humor is often cruel, it can also be a source of pride and play among minorities, women, and gays. Leon Rappoport's incisive account takes an in-depth look at ethnic, racial, and gender humor, and shows that despite the polarization that is often apparent in the debates such humor evokes, the most important melting pot in this country may be the one that we enter when we share a laugh at ourselves. This timely work displays ethnic, racial, and gender humor in both its aspects: as an aggressive instrument of prejudice and as a powerful defense against it. Rappoport explores the origins and implications of the various slurs, stereotypes, and obscenities that are typical of this double-edged form of modern comedy, as well as the ways in which irony has been employed by minority figures as a weapon against oppression. Broad in scope and lively in style, Rappoport's volume is enhanced by illustrative jokes and comedy routines, and should keep readers engaged, entertained, and provoked throughout.

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The Sword and Shield Metaphor and Other Perspectives
What Makes Us Laugh Humor Theory and Research from Plato and Aristotle to Sigmund Freud
Prejudice Pride and Play in Ethnic Comedy
The Origins and Psychology of Stereotypes and Slurs
The Dominant Role of Jews and African Americans Lenny Bruce Richard Pryor and the Culture of Irony
Jewish and African American Roots Humor Saving Grace in the Face of Oppression
Males versus Females Gays versus Straights and the Varieties of Gender Humor
The New Breed of Comedians and Transformation of Ethnicity
Becoming a Comedian Ethnicity Helps but Is Not Enough
In Defense of Ethnic Humor and Its Role In Our Multicultural Society

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About the author (2005)

Leon Rappoport is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Kansas State University. A prolific author of many research articles, review essays, and book chapters, he has also published books on personality, decision-making, psychohistory, and the Holocaust. His current work in humor is based on several years spent researching and teaching classes about the significance of ethnic, racial and gender humor at Kansas State University.

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