Ddi you hear the one about the WASP, the kike, the wop, the paddy and the Newfoundlander?

Kenneth Minogue reviews Christie Davies’ “The Mirth of Nations” and analyses the difficult subject of ethnic jokes.

We learn from jokes, as we learn from everything, and being mocked is an important part of growing up. ìAll too often,î Davies remarks, ìhumor scholars treat jokes as if they can be reduced to clear, serious objective statements which imply single meanings, and then analyze them in a way that is ambiguous, obscure, untestable and subjectiveóin a word, a joke.î The importance of The Mirth of Nations is that it takes jokes back from the theorists and returns them to the comedians. And thatís all of us. “

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