1.) Especially in repressive regimes, political jokes can provide spaces for the articulation
of non-official or counter-official ideas which may more closely resemble private
2.) The range of political jokes in circulation under any given government will to some
extent resonate with the lived experience of the joke-tellers under that political system.
3.) Different regimes types will offer a different set of possibilities conducive to the
making and telling of jokes as a function not only of levels of repression etc., but by
virtue of the modes in which their state/regime relationship and their configurations of
pluralism, ideology, leadership and mobilisation present points of friction or rupture
within the social structure as typically experienced by the citizen.
There are numerous and diverse theories of humour and of jokes. In the paper
‘Risky Business: Political Jokes under Repressive Regimes’22, the folklore anthropologist
and humour specialist Elliott Oring examines six possible explanations for why people tell
political jokes. To outline them, the first – essentially null – hypothesis would be that
political jokes are much like other forms of joking and should be regarded simply as
22 Elliott Oring, ‘Risky Business: Political Jokes under Repressive Regimes’, Western Folklore, (Summer 2004); available at: <http://www.looksmartfamilytree.com/p/articles/mi_qa3732/is_200407/ai_n14687876>, retrieved: 1st January 2006