Humour and the Conduct of Politics

  • John Morreall


Humour has been intertwined with politics since ancient times, when the pharoahs in Egypt and emperors in China first appointed court jesters. In ancient Athens, democracy was born alongside comedy in the fifth century. Aristophanes’s Lγsistrata was the first in a long line of anti-war comedies. In his handbook On the Orator, Cicero offered tips to politicians on when and how to use humour in speeches. He advised them not to make jokes about tyrants, for example, since the audience will expect something stronger. Political cartoons have been part of newspapers almost as long as there have been newspapers, and the rise of democracy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was correlated with the rise of sophisticated political cartooning in the hands of Gillray, Rowlandson, Daumier and Nast. Around the world, political jokes are a standard part of conversation. In the United States, political jokes on television are monitored by politicians to gauge the success or failure of their campaigns.


Aesthetic Experience Political Advertisement Tennis Match General Ethical Principle Ethical Ramification 
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© John Morreall 2005

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  • John Morreall

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