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Do the kinds of political joke that get circulated in a polity depend on the structure - page 38 / 46





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Douglas Ayling

suggest that where separate groupings are available for the political humour of Jewish

people under regime types, the kinds of political jokes circulated are markedly different as

to their content from jokes which are not Jewish. In the Third Reich source and the soviet

1988 source, Jewish jokes more frequently speak neither to the state, the regime nor the

ideology, compared to the non-Jewish jokes. The following joke involves a Schutzstaffel

(SS) raid, but is not “about” the state apparatus – rather, it could be more fairly

characterised as “Jewish humour”:

There is a raid on a Jewish home at breakfast time. “Who are those men?” a frightened boy asks his grandmother. “S.S., mein kind.”63

Many of these “other” jokes are those whose primary reference is to constructions

of “Jewishness” whether endorsed or parodied, rather than to the political context – what

Christie Davies calls the “conventional scripts”64 of a group that are given currency for the

sake of humour. For example, the following joke is both set in Auschwitz and involves a

gas chamber, but it a joke that is “about” a script for Jewishness and not “about” the


63 64 ibid., p.180. This reads “Ess, ess mein kind,” and is hence the petition of the supposedly archetypical concerned Jewish grandmother. Christie Davies, The Right to Joke, Research Report 37 (London: 2004, The Social Affairs Unit), pp.1-15, available at: <http://socialaffairsunit.org.uk/digipub/content/view/11/27/>, retrieved: 1st Jan 2006, p.11

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