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Cyber-humour: the end of humour as we know it?

Cyber-humour: the end of humour as we know it?


One of the most prominent manifestations of humorous communication nowadays is ‘cyberhumour’, or Internet-based humour. Humour has long been recognised as a key to understanding individuals and cultures; accompanying human society from its very beginnings and changing form, format and style according to social, cultural and technological processes.

Today, a large portion of our humorous daily communication is mediated by the Internet. Countless websites are devoted to humour, and an enormous traffic of emails containing humorous messages daily congests servers and PC terminals all over the world. This salient phenomenon appears to be highly significant to the understanding of both humour and the Internet.

Study aims

The study investigated the implications of the Internet on various phases of humorous communication, starting from the senders of humorous messages and ending in receiving procedures. It was carried out in two phases.

  • The ‘Wide Angle’ phase aimed to portray the ‘big picture’ of Internet-based humour. Questions addressed included: what is the definition of ‘cyberhumour’? What are the dominant topics of Internet-based humour? What are the social implications of the new humorous forms that are facilitated by digitised technology and Internet culture?
  • The ‘Close Up’ phase concentrated on specific themes, such as political humour on the Internet during election campaigns, humour about computer-mediated communication technologies, and online humour about gender.

In both of these phases, the study combined quantitative and qualitative methods.


This work was partly supported by a grant from the John Fell OUP Research Fund at the University of Oxford.

John Fell OUP Research Fund

Key Information

  • John Fell OUP Research Fund
  • Project dates:
    January 2005 - December 2007

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