Australasian Humour Studies Network

AHSN Digest – February 2022

28th AHSN Conference, University of Tasmania, Hobart
Convenor’s report

During the past 12 months there were times when I wondered what sort of monster I had unleashed in agreeing to convene the 28th annual Australasian Humour Studies Network conference in Hobart in February 2022. From my previous experience as convener (Hobart, February 2011), I recall it being a little extra work off the side of my desk ramping up to a full, but fun-filled week at conference time.
This time it was a little different. We had the Covid pandemic to factor in, the uncertainty about state border closures, some internal organisational changes necessitating copious amounts of correspondence with two University administrative bureaucracies and finally the perils of relying on new technologies which are splendid assets when they work as they should, but …!

I’m sure you get the picture.

Having said that, my memories are now much more positive. To bring together so many insightful and informative speakers presenting on a broad spectrum of humour-related topics was quite an achievement. My sincere thanks to the hard-working Jessica and Kerry, the other AHSN Board members and to the Review Panel for this.

My reward came from seeing the smiling faces of the 33 happy delegates who continued their specific humour interest discussions over the scrumptious catering at the conference and the conference dinner, and who formed new bonds with each other from which future collaborations are almost assured.It was also heartening to see so many younger students being inspired and motivated to pursue their studies with a new-found passion for the role that humour may have within their specific disciplines.

An ‘extra-curricular’ highlight of the Hobart conference was a visit to Tasmania’s Government House for a welcome reception hosted by Her Excellency, the Honourable Barbara Baker, Governor of Tasmania and Emeritus Professor Don Chalmers.
In her welcoming address to us all, Her Excellency commented, “If anyone can maintain good humour in organising a conference, it is you. You not only share an academic interest in humour, but also apply your knowledge for the benefit of others.”
That summed it up nicely.

I have just confirmed that all our visiting delegates are now safely home in their own beds, Covid-free. I shall now relax having ticked off all my self-imposed ‘successful conference’ criteria.

Daryl Peebles, PhD, University of Tasmania
E: daryl.peebles@bigpond.com

Editors: A resounding cheer of appreciation met Daryl’s farewell speech at the closing of the Conference and those thanks were strongly echoed at the subsequent Annual Review Meeting of the AHSN Board and review panel. A fabulous time was had by all and no-one got sick (as far as we know!). Many delegates stayed on to enjoy other parts of lovely Tasmania. The Board hopes to announce the venue for the 29th Conference very soon.



Image Gallery



Message from the Chair of the AHSN Board

On behalf of the AHSN Board, I am really delighted to be able to report that we had a hugely enjoyable and successful conference in Hobart, both in person and online. We even managed to pull off a Covid-free event, which I was not at all convinced would be possible! Thank you to all our in-person delegates for following all the Covid regulations in terms of masks and social distancing – this is what ensured we kept the virus at bay. Thank you also to the online participants who contributed to the discussions and attended a great many sessions.

There was an array of diverse and excellent papers, and while it is always a shame not to be able to see them all, our YouTube channel now has recordings of many of the presentations. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the presenters with your feedback on their talks once you have had a chance to watch them. It was also wonderful to see people in 3D (with apologies to the onliners!) and to rediscover the networking and collegiality that goes on between presentations. A number of initiatives were also created and we look forward to seeing the new HDR/ECR (higher degree/early career researchers) network bear fruit. Ben Nickl and Chris Muller are particularly to be thanked for this initiative which is the subject of another article in this Digest.

Talking of HDRs, we would like to again congratulate our postgraduate scholarship winners:

  • Deborah Eddy, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University
  • Fergus Edwards, English, University of Tasmania
  • Victoria Haberley, Psychology, University of Tasmania
  • Til Knowles, English and Theatre Studies, University of Melbourne
  • Carolin Krafzik, Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University
  • Rebecca Persic, School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Curtin University
  • Nellie Ryan, Psychology, University of Tasmania
  • Oxana Vasilyeva, Cultural studies, Griffith University

And also our newly inducted Fellows in the Order of the Jess-ters:

  • Conjoint Prof. Michael Ewans FAHA, University of Newcastle, Member of AHSN Review Panel, 2009-present
  • Prof. Robert Phiddian, Flinders University, Member of AHSN Review Panel, 2009-present

In closing, I would like to once again thank and shower praise on our host and conference convenor Daryl Peebles, who organised the venue, the IT support, the admin, the catering, the conference dinner, Friday night drinks, local keynote speakers Naomi Milthorpe and Jon Kudelka, comedy performance by remarkable Tasmanian Ben Richardson, presentation by Scott Carver, University of Tasmania, on his team’s Wombat Poo IgNobel Prize for Physics 2019, and the Welcome Reception at Government House, Tasmania. I have no doubt omitted many other things he organised behind the scenes and am beginning to wonder what the rest of us on the conference organising committee actually did! (*See below for details.)

Talking of the Reception at Government House, for those who were unable to attend, for those who would like to refresh their memories, and for those who arrived late and missed it (we know who we are!), the Governor has added her welcome speech to her website.

See you all in 2023!


*AHSN 2022 Organising Committee

  • Dr Daryl Peebles (Convenor) – see above
  • Dr Benjamin Nickl, University of Sydney – ECR panel facilitator, QR code, YouTube channel and additional tech support
  • Dr Mark Rolfe, University of NSW – abstract wrangler
  • Dr Reza Arab, Griffith University – abstract wrangler and additional tech support
  • Dr Jessica Milner Davis, AHSN Co-ordinator – (online) keynote speakers Conal Condren and Nick Holm, conference program and generally everything else
  • Honorary committee member Zarek Hennessy – photography
  • A./Prof. Kerry Mullan, RMIT University – pin sales and occasional coffee run


ECR Network Panel at AHSN — a Foundation for the Future

On a bright morning in Hobart at the impressive buildings of the University of Tasmania, the first meeting of the ECR Network at the AHSN convened. I always have to spell out acronyms to work out what they stand for and then immediately forget what they stand for, and this is no exception. The Early Career Network (ECR) met as a pre-conference workshop at the inspiring Australasian Humour Studies Network Conference (AHSN but you probably know that one).

The session was led by the dynamic duo of Chris Müller and Ben Nickl with Ian Reilly in Canada and Terri Senft at Macquarie Uni beaming in through the power of Zoom. As a researcher very early in my career, I found the session to be really enlivening and it gave me a quick overview of some of the established researchers in this field and an opportunity to make connections with other early career researchers.

I came to the conference to ‘find my people’ and I did. There are only a few people at my university researching humour, so finding others interested in the same themes and issues as myself has been invaluable. The ECR Network means I’ll be able to get guidance and various perspectives from other researchers and keep conversations alive through social media platforms. I have already found out about upcoming seminars, book launches and upcoming conferences. The ECR Network can also be a place to share recent work and get advice about research pitches. This was a great way to start the conference and most importantly, I now know I’m not alone on this research journey and I have met the people who will help guide the way.

If you would like to join or know more about the ECR Network of the AHSN, you can reach out to Ben Nickl at Benjamin.nickl@sydney.edu.au and join the network’s Facebook group.

The main AHSN webpage with the link to subscribe to its free e-newsletter, the AHSN Humour Studies Digest and associated social media posts is at: https://ahsnhumourstudies.org/Nicky Marr Smith


Nicole Smith, RMIT



AHSN Social Media Update from Lara Weinglass,
University of Queensland.

Just an update about the AHSN’s growing social media presence. You can follow us on Twitter (@AHSN_humour), or follow our page on Facebook (@AHSNHumour). We’ve been busy before and after the recent 28th Conference at UTas and there’s lots going on still.

PhD candidates, postdocs and ECRs, please join our new AHSN Humour ECR/postdoc network, a private group on Facebook (thanks to Ben Nickl for setting this up!): https://www.facebook.com/groups/649418106369605. You can also join the AHSN Graduate & Early Career Researchers Guild Discord Server (thanks to Matilda Knowles): https://discord.gg/PaKKzK9E

Please feel free to share these details amongst your networks, and send through any news you’d like us to share: events, new publications, CfP or anything else potentially of interest to the group. If you have any updates for our social media pages, please e-mail Lara Weinglass directly: l.weinglass@uq.edu.au


The 2nd AHSN webinar took place on 24th January 2022 and the recording is now available.

“Shame and feminist humor in social media: Who’s laughing now?” featuring Prof Jenny Sundén and Prof Susanna Paasonen, authors of a recent leading work on feminist humour in social media.

Online sexism, hate and harassment aim to silence women and other others through shaming and fear. In this seminar, Jenny Sundén and Susanna Paasonen argue that feminist social media tactics that use humor, laughter and a sense of the absurd to answer name-calling, slut-shaming and unsolicited dick pics can rewire the affective circuits of sexual shame and acts of shaming.

They investigate the tactic of using irony to make visible the exclusion of women from the realm of professional expertise within the “Congrats, you have an all male panel!” Tumblr blog, creating a form of feminist cringe comedy for those who feel embarrassed on behalf of those who have no sense of shame. The contagiousness of laughter drives the emergence of networked forms of feminism, bringing people together (although it may also create rifts). Exploring the intersection of networked feminism, humor and shame, Sundén and Paasonen argue for the political necessity of inappropriate laughter.



Jessica Milner Davis on the History of Humour Studies

Members might like to know that AHSN Co-ordinator, Jessica Milner Davis, University of Sydney, was invited last year to address the Royal Society of NSW on the evolution of humour and laughter as a field of study. She looked back over some 45 years to the first Conference on Humour and Laughter, held in Cardiff, Wales, under the auspices of the British Psychological Society, which she was lucky enough to attend, along with other members of BAHA (the San Francisco Bay Area Humor Association, led by the late Bill Fry of Stanford University).

The webinar is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRPoLPIlYdQ  and the text of Jessica’s lecture has been published as a fully annotated and reviewed article:

Jessica Milner Davis. 2021. Taking humour and laughter seriously: The multi-disciplinary field of humour studies. Journal & Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 154 (2): 182-200. ISSN (online): 2653-1305 At: https://royalsoc.org.au/council-members-section/527-v154-3


Members’ New Publications

Margaret A. Rose and Elena A. Semenova. 2021. M.M Bakhtin on parody.  In The Bakhtin Encylopedia. The Bakhtinsky Herald, No. 2 (6). At:  Бахтинский вестник — Научный журнал (mrsu.ru)  (National Research Moldovia State University)


Would you like your work featured in The Digest?

book icon

If you’ve recently published a book, chapter, scholarly or media article on humour, comedy or laughter, we want to hear from you. Contact our editors so we can share your research with our AHSN audience!

Jessica Milner Davis (co-editor) | Jessica.davis@sydney.edu.au
Amanda Cooper (book review editor)|


Dannagal Goldthwaite Young. 2019. Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press USA. 288 pp. ISBN (Hardcover): 9780190913083. ISBN (Paperback): 9780197581803. ISBN (eBook): 9780190913106. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190913083.001.0001.

Publisher’s Description:

This book explores the aesthetics, underlying logics, and histories of two seemingly distinct genres—liberal political satire and conservative opinion talk—making the case that they should be thought of as the logical extensions of the psychology of the left and right, respectively. One genre is guided by ambiguity, play, deliberation, and openness, while the other is guided by certainty, vigilance, instinct, and boundaries. While the audiences for Sean Hannity and John Oliver come from opposing political ideologies, both are high in political interest, knowledge, and engagement, and both lack faith in some of the United States’ core democratic institutions. This book illustrates how the roles these two genres play for their viewers are strikingly similar: galvanizing the opinion of the left or the right, mobilizing citizens around certain causes, and expressing a frustration with traditional news coverage while offering alternative sources of information and meaning. However, the book proposes that these genres differ in a crucial way: in their capacity to be exploited by special interests and political elites. The book concludes that due to the symbiotic relationship between conservative outrage and the psychological and physiological characteristics of the right, conservative outrage is uniquely positioned as a mechanism for successful elite propaganda and mobilization—in a way that liberal satire is not.


Chapter 1: The Counterculture Comics versus the Hate Clubs of the Air
Chapter 2: Political and Technological Changes That Created Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly
Chapter 3: Outrage and Satire as Responses and Antidotes
Chapter 4: The Psychology of Satire
Chapter 5: Who Gets the Joke?
Chapter 6: The Psychology of the Left and the Right
Chapter 7: The Psychological Roots of Humor’s Liberal Bias
Chapter 8: The Aesthetics of Outrage
Chapter 9: Satire and Outrage: Parallel Functions and Impact
Chapter 10: Playing against Type: Liberal “Outrage” and Conservative “Satire”
Chapter 11: Irony and Outrage: A Wild Raccoon versus a Well-Trained Attack Dog
Notes & Index
Author’s Bionotes:

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young is Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware and the Center for Political Communication, a Distinguished Research Fellow with the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and member of the National Institute for Civil Discourse Research Network. Her research on the psychology, content, and effects of political entertainment has been widely published in academic journals and media outlets, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, Variety, and National Public Radio. She has also been an improvisational comedian with ComedySportz Philadelphia since 1999, and is the creator and host of Dr. Young Unpacks, a playful deep dive into the psychology of media, politics, and pop culture.




Sasanka Perera, Dev Nath Pathak (eds). 2022. Humour and the Performance of Power in South Asia: Anxiety, Laughter and Politics in Unstable Times. New Delhi: Routledge India. 208+ pp. 19 b/w illustrations. ISBN (Hardcover): 9780367541804. ISBN (Paperback):  9780367564018. (eBook): 9781003097549.  

Publisher’s Description:

This book critically examines the role and politics of humour and the performance of power in South Asia. What does humour do and how does it manifest when lived political circumstances experience ruptures or instability? Can humour that emerges in such circumstances be viewed as a specific narrative on the nature of democracy in the region? Drawing upon essays from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, this volume discusses many crucial historical and contemporary themes, including dance-drama performances in northern India; caste and stand-up comedy in India; cartoon narratives of citizens’ anxieties; civic participation through social media memes in Sri Lanka; media, politics and humorous public in Bangladesh; the politics of performance in India; and the influence of humour and satire as political commentaries. The volume explores the impact of humour in South Asian folklore, ritual performances, media and journalism, and online technologies. This topical and interdisciplinary book will be essential for scholars and researchers of cultural studies, political science, sociology and social anthropology, media and communication studies, theatre and performance studies, and South Asian studies.


Chapter 1
Introduction: Cultural Politics of Humour in South Asia – Sasanka Perera and Dev Nath Pathak

Part I: Humour in Literary and Visual Subversions

Chapter 2: Colonial Cartoons: Punch and Vernacular Punch Politics of Humour in Colonial India – Divyendu Jha
Chapter 3: Khattar Kaka’s Subversive Hinduism: A Case of Literary-Cultural Politics of Humour – Dev Nath Pathak

Part II: Folkloric Worldviews: Laughter as Performed Narratives

Chapter 4: Tales from Assam’s Tea Gardens: When Humour becomes Resistance in Everyday Life-world of Labourers – Prithiraj Borah
Chapter 5: Dramatic Haryanvi Humour: A Case of Subversion in Jakari and Ragni Monika Yadav
Chapter 6: ‘A Sri Lankan Arrives in Hell’: A Case of Laughing at ‘Sri Lanka’ and the ‘Sri Lankan’ in a Collection of Modern Folktales – Lal Medawattegedara

Part III: Mediated Messages for Laughing and Thinking

Chapter 7: Humour, Criticality and the Performance of Anonymous Power: Internet Memes as Political Commentaries in Sinhala Society – Sasanka Perera
Chapter 8: Humorous Masculinity: Nepali Men in Mediated Indian Male Gaze – Sandhya A.S and Chitra Adkar
Chapter 9: Politics of Performance and Performance of Politics: Analysing Stand-Up Comedy in the Indian Context – Sukrity Gogoi and Simona Sarma
Chapter 10: Humorous Public in Bangladesh: An Analytical Reading of Mediated Politics –Ratan Kumar Roy

Editors’ Bionotes:

Sasanka Perera is Professor of Sociology at South Asian University, New Delhi, India. 

Dev Nath Pathak is Assistant Professor of Sociology at South Asian University, New Delhi, India.


Nicolas Kiès. Rencontrer en devisant. La conversation facétieuse dans les recueils bigarrés (Du Fail, Cholières, Bouchet). Genève: Droz, 2021, 501p., 89€.

Keywords: Jokes, Noël du Fail, Nicolas de Cholières, Guillaume Bouchet, sixteenth century, Renaissance

Book description, courtesy of Humoresques (http://www.humoresques.fr/)

Around 1585, three collections of fables and anecdotes were published in France, each cultivating formal hybridity and a mixture of tones: Contes et discours d’Eutrapel by Noël du Fail, Matinées et Apresdisnées by Nicolas de Cholières, and Serées by the bookseller-printer Guillaume Bouchet. These colourful books feature remarkable dialogues that are as pleasant to read as they are erudite.

The first comprehensive study on the subject, Nicolas Kiès’s book interrogates the poetics of these mixed texts through the notions of “jokes” and “anecdotes”, located at the crossroads of the history of forms and sociability. While the Kingdom of France was then still in the grip of the Wars of Religion, these facetious dialogues sketch-out quaint models of coexistence, valuing freedom of speech, playful conflicts, and paradoxical worldviews. At the end of the Renaissance, an important turning point in the history of conversation was therefore taking shape, between urbanity and rusticity, politeness and Gallic spirit.

Trans. Richard Scully


Autour de 1585 paraissent en France des recueils dialogués cultivant l’hybridité formelle et le mélange des tons : Contes et discours d’Eutrapel de Noël du Fail, Matinées et Apresdisnées de Cholières, Serées du libraire-imprimeur Guillaume Bouchet. Ces ouvrages bigarrés mettent en scène d’étonnantes conversations aussi plaisantes qu’érudites.

Première étude d’ampleur sur le sujet, le livre de Nicolas Kiès interroge la poétique de ces textes mêlés à travers les notions de « facétie » et de « devis », situées au carrefour de l’histoire des formes et de la sociabilité. Alors que le Royaume est toujours en proie aux guerres civiles, ces conversations facétieuses ébauchent des modèles de coexistence originaux, valorisant la liberté de parole, les conflits ludiques et les ententes paradoxales. En cette fin de Renaissance s’esquisse un tournant important de l’histoire de la conversation, entre urbanité et rusticité, politesse et gauloiserie.

Henri de Jongste. 2020. Playing with Mental Models. Humour in the BBC comedy series The Office. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.  301 pp.

Keywords: Television, communication theory

Book description, courtesy of Humoresques (http://www.humoresques.fr/)

In this study, questions about mental models of communication theory relate to the roles they play in communication in general, and in particular in the creation and consumption of The Office.

“The US Office is certainly the funniest sitcom to appear in decades – this is hardly an exaggeration. For those unfamiliar with the series (originally created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in England, and the subject of an American version in 2005), at first glance the synopsis is not the most hilarious: Michael Scott is the owner of a small company specialized in the sale of paper called Dunder Mifflin, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Said boss, played by (the excellent) Steve Carell, happens to be one of the people least willing to work on Earth. In the form of a mock documentary, we follow the days – each more chaotic than the last – from the small team to oh so iconic members: from the alcoholic nymphomaniac Meredith (Kate Flannery) to the imperturbable Stanley (Stanley Hudson) through the delirious Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) and lovers Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer). Under the guise of absurd humour and permanent (most often politically incorrect) jokes, the series comprises 9 seasons” [extract from Inrockuptibles Magazine].

Trans. Richard Scully


L’interrogation sur les modèles mentaux de la théorie de la communication portent dans cette étude sur les rôles qu’ils jouent dans la communication en général et en particulier en créant et en assistant à The office.

The Office US est certainement la sitcom la plus drôle des dernières décennies – on exagère à peine. Pour ceux qui ne connaissent pas encore la série, initialement créée par Ricky Gervais et Stephen Merchant en Angleterre, et qui a fait l’objet d’une version américaine en 2005, le synopsis n’est à première vue pas des plus tordants : Michael Scott est le patron d’une petite entreprise spécialisée dans la vente de papier nommée Dunder Mifflin, à Scranton en Pennsylvanie. Or, il se trouve que ledit patron, incarné par (l’excellent) Steve Carell, se trouve être l’une des personnes ayant le moins envie de travailler sur Terre. Sous forme de faux documentaire, nous suivons les journées – toutes plus chaotiques les unes que les autres – de la petite équipe aux membres ô combien emblématiques : de la nymphomane alcoolique Meredith (Kate Flannery) à l’imperturbable Stanley (Stanley Hudson) en passant par le délirant Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) et les amoureux Jim (John Krasinski) et Pam (Jenna Fischer). Sous couvert d’humour absurde et de blagues permanentes (le plus souvent politiquement incorrectes), la série comprend 9 saisons.” (extrait de Inrockuptibles)


New PRESIDENT FOR International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS)
— Dr Sharon Lockyer

Sharon Lockyer, Director of the Comedy Research Studies Centre at Brunel University London, has been elected incoming President of the International Society for Humor Studies. Congratulations, Sharon!


Sharon Lockyer, PhD, is a Reader in Sociology and Communications at Brunel University London, UK, where she is also the Founding Director of the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Networks-and-Labs/Comedy-Studies-Research). Founded in 2013, the CCSR was the first international interdisciplinary research centre devoted to the academic study of comedy. Sharon’s research focuses on the sociology of humour and comedy, critical comedy studies, humour and identity, and the ethics and aesthetics of humorous discourse and she gained her PhD from Loughborough University, UK, in 2002 for a thesis entitled An Eye to Offensiveness: The Discourse of Offence and Censure in “Private Eye”. Her edited and co-edited volumes include Reading “Little Britain”: Comedy Matters on Contemporary Television (2010), Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humour (2005/2009), Controversial Images: Media Representations on the Edge (2012), Screening the Undead: Vampires and Zombies in Film and Television (2014) and Alternative Comedy Now and Then: Critical Perspectives (2022). Sharon is the Founding Co-editor of the Palgrave Studies in Comedy book series and has published numerous book chapters and journal articles on humour and comedy.

Sharon has presented regularly at ISHS conferences since 1999 and was awarded as an ISHS Emerging Scholar in 2004. She taught on the ISHS-endorsed International Summer School and Symposium on Humour and Laughter: Theory, Research and Applications in Aberdeen, Scotland (2007), Tartu, Estonia (2011) and Sheffield, England (2014). Since 2012, Sharon has served on the Editorial Board of ISHS’s journal, HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research and the ISHS-endorsed journal, European Journal of Humour Research. From 2016-2019, Sharon was an Elected Member-at-Large on the ISHS Executive Board, during which time she also contributed via the ISHS Awards Committee and the ISHS Nominations Committee. As Director of the CCSR, she has successfully built links between the academic study of comedy and humour and a network of professional practitioners via the Centre’s Seminar series, its Ambassadors, Advisory Committee and Affiliated Researchers. Sharon is committed to sharing the work of academic scholars in humour studies with wider communities and in supporting the highest standards of scholarship.


Recent ISHS Executive Board Elections

Two AHSN’ers as Candidates

Editors: It was good to see two members of AHSN invited to stand in the recent ISHS Executive Board Elections.  While neither was ultimately successful, hopefully they will offer themselves again in subsequent elections and help promote good links between the regional and international groupings. Congratulations to Nick and Kerry!

The AHSN candidates and their bionotes from the ISHS “Humorous Times”, November 2021:

Nicholas Holm, PhD (Massey University, New Zealand)

Nicholas Holm is a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at Massey University, New Zealand. His research explores the political role of popular culture and entertainment media, with a particular focus on humor and comedy. His most recent publications include articles on the politics of fun amidst pandemic lockdowns (Cultural Studies, 2021) and the communicative complications of comic irony online (New Media & Society, 2021). His most recent book is Humour as Politics (Palgrave 2017) and he is currently working on a monograph exploring fun as a social and political category. He is a board member of the Australasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN), a member of the book review editorial team for HUMOR, and part of the editorial board of Comedy Studies. Nick has been a member of the AHSN since 2014, and hosted the network’s conference in February 2021. He first attended a meeting of the International Society for Humor Studies in Montreal, Quebec in 2017 and again in Tallinn, Estonia in 2018.

Kerry Mullan, PhD (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Associate Professor Kerry Mullan has been a member of the International Society of Humor Studies since 2017 and a member of the Australasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN) since 2015. Since 2019, she has served as Chair of the AHSN Board, and in 2019, she convened the 25th AHSN conference at RMIT University. She regularly presents her humor research at AHSN annual conferences as well as Australian and international linguistics conferences. She has been a member of the Interdisciplinary Network of Humour Research (RIRH) based in France since its inception in 2019 and is currently Chief Investigator on two humor-related research projects based in France. On the “Transnational Coronavirus Humor Project” led by Giselinde Kuipers and Mark Boukes, Kerry leads the Australia/New Zealand team. As Convenor of Language Studies at RMIT University, Kerry teaches French language and culture and applied linguistics. Her main research interests are cross-cultural communication and humour in French and Australian social interactions. Her co-authored publication, Issues in conversational humour from a cross-cultural perspective: comparing French and Australian corpora (2013), proposed a new model for the cross-cultural analysis of conversational humor, which verbal humor scholars have used. Additionally, Kerry has guest co-edited two special journal issues on conversational humor. She has also published research in the areas of intercultural pragmatics, discourse analysis, and language teaching. She greatly enjoys collaborating with colleagues in humor studies across all disciplines and regions and is keen to contribute more directly to the ISHS.


Call for Papers for a Panel at the 12th Conference of EuroSEAS (European Association for Southeast Asian Studies)

Paris: EuroSEAS Conference 2022

June 28, 2022 – July 1, 2022

Panel convenors are searching for interested authors for a panel on “Humour as Politics: Parody, Irony, and Satire in Southeast Asia”, which will bring together scholars of humour studies, political studies, cultural studies, comparative literature, and translation.

The papers in this panel should address the role and politics of humour in Southeast Asia by exploring different humorous styles, including comedy, irony, satire, parody, and the grotesque, as well as its various manifestations, including Southeast Asian folklore, literature and theatre, ritual performances, dance performances, the politics of performance, stand-up comedy, meme, media, and journalism, etc., in different Southeast Asian contexts.

Proposals must be submitted before 15 March 2022. We expect to organize a double session, and we are thinking of a possible publication of a volume containing the panel papers.

More information about the conference can be found at this link (and see below): https://www.euroseas.org/accepted-panels-roundtables/

For more information, contact:

Thuy Hien LE, Research Fellow, Department of Asian, African and Mediterranean Studies, University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Italy. E: lehien@unior.it


Paris: EuroSEAS Conference 2022

June 28, 2022 – July 1, 2022

The European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) will hold its 12th conference at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), on the new Campus Condorcet, Paris-Aubervilliers, France, from 28 June to 1 July 2022.



Humour as Politics: Parody, Irony, and Satire in Southeast Asia

Convenors: Antonia Soriente, Università degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”, asoriente@unior.it

Thuy Hien Le, Università degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”, lehien@unior.it

This panel brings together scholars of humour studies, political studies, cultural studies, comparative literature, and translation.

As pointed out by many scholars (Davis 1998, Hodgart 2009, Kessel and Merziger 2011, Tsakona and Popa 2015, Sørensen 2016, Davis 2017, Holm 2017, Milner Davis 2017, Le Breton 2018, Wedderburn 2021), laughter does not only have psychological, philosophical, or religious implications, but also includes social and political ones. Humour, in its various forms, including comedy, irony, satire, caricature, parody, etc., can help highlight social situations, dominant thoughts and opinions in a certain group and at a certain time.

In Southeast Asia the use of political humour both as an art form and a mode of persuasive discourse dates back for centuries, and politicians and elites have been well aware of its powerful influence on public opinion, leading to the use of humour against foreign occupation, colonialism and imperialism in the past, or against limitations of civil and political rights in modern times.

Though humour is rather common both in traditional and contemporary Southeast Asian arts and cultures, the field of humour in Southeast Asia is still relatively unexplored. The comparative lack of knowledge in the West of Southeast Asian arts and literature, and the scarcity of studies dedicated to them makes it difficult to draw an overall picture of the humorous production in the area. The papers on this panel address the role and politics of humour in Southeast Asia by exploring different humorous styles, including comedy, irony, satire, parody and the grotesque, as well as its various manifestations, including Southeast Asian folklore, literature and theatre, ritual performances, dance performances, the politics of performance, stand-up comedy, meme, media and journalism, etc., in different Southeast Asian contexts. By reflecting on various approaches to the study of political humour’s content, audience, and impact, this panel offers scholars multiple ways to consider the effects of political humour on individuals and society, and how humour helps understand better the socio-political complexities in this part of the world.

  • Davies, C. (1998) Jokes and their relations to society. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • Davis, J. M. (2017) Satire and Politics. The Interplay of Heritage and Practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Le Breton, D. (2018) Rire: Une anthropologie du rieur. Paris: Metailie. Hodgart, M. (2009) Satire: Origins and Principles. New York: Routledge.
  • Holm, N. (2017) Humour as Politics. The Polictical Aesthetics of Contemporary Comedy, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kessel, M. and Merziger, P. (editors), (2011) The Politics of Humour, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Milner Davis, J. (2017) Satire and Politics, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Sørensen, M. J. (2016) Humour in Political Activism, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Tsakona, V. and Popa, D. E. (editors), (2015) Studies in Political Humour: In between political critique and public entertainment, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Wedderburn, A. (2021) Humour, Subjectivity and World Politics: Everyday Articulations of Identity at The Limits of Order, Manchester: Manchester University Press.




The Drama and Performance Forum of the Modern Language Association is sponsoring two guaranteed panels on “humor and humorlessness”.

1. Humor and Humorlessness before 1900

The Drama and Performance Forum of the Modern Language Association (MLA) announces a sponsored session entitled “Humor and Humorlessness before 1900” to be held at the MLA Convention in San Francisco, CA, from January 5-8, 2023.

From the medieval period to the nineteenth century the concept of humor shifted from an aspect of human physiology, to the eccentric qualities of individuals or comic characters, to a mode of seeing that was also a cultural sensibility (Daniel Wickberg, The Senses of Humor). That the modern “sense of humor” emerged during the nineteenth century, a period better known for its moral seriousness, suggests the dialectical relation of humor and its opposites. We welcome proposals on humor and humorlessness in drama and performance prior to 1900. We are especially interested in papers that foreground sites outside of the U.S. and Britain or that explore understudied subjects in our field. Some possible questions: How did theatre genres and performance traditions present humor and its opposites? How do performed humor and humorlessness intersect cultural histories of race, class, gender, and sexuality? When and why did humorlessness become a performance?

Please submit brief bios and 250-word abstracts by March 15, 2021 to Sarah Balkin sarah.balkin@unimelb.edu.au and Darren Gobert rdg37@duke.edu.


2. Humor and Humorlessness after 1900

The Drama and Performance Forum of the Modern Language Association (MLA) announces a sponsored session entitled “Humor and Humorlessness after 1900” to be held at the MLA Convention in San Francisco, CA, from January 5-8, 2023.

Humor denotes the capacity to appreciate or express what is funny; it is an index of shared feeling. Humorlessness lacks or refuses this sharing; it often pejoratively describes people or groups who object to jokes at their expense. We welcome proposals on humor and humorlessness in drama and performance after 1900. We are especially interested in papers that foreground sites outside of the U.S. and Britain or that explore understudied subjects in our field. Some possible questions: How have twentieth and twenty-first-century plays and performances deployed humor and humorlessness as modes of belonging, exclusion, resistance, and refusal? How have comedians and other performance makers navigated shifts in what audiences understand to be funny? What can drama and performance contribute to contemporary debates about political correctness and taking a joke?

Please submit brief bios and 250-word abstracts by March 15, 2021 to Sarah Balkin sarah.balkin@unimelb.edu.au and Darren Gobert rdg37@duke.edu.


Call for Abstracts for a Panel on Cartooning

Panel on “Cultural Functions of Caricature and Cartoonisation: Histories of Representational Correspondence and Ideology”

At the 15th World Congress of Semiotics / IASS-AIS onSemiotics in the Lifeworld”

August 30 – September 3, 2022, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece


Panel convened by Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard, University of Cologne, Germany, E: packard@uni-koeln.de

Please submit your abstract directly to Prof. Packard by **March 31st 2022**. Paper abstracts should include: Name/Affiliation/e-mail of participant(s), Title, Abstract (200-250 words) and Keywords (up to 5).

Keywords: representational correspondence, ideology, cartoon, caricature, comic.


Caricature and cartoon – depictions of bodies and spaces that are reduced to few exaggerated, simple contours – are fundamentally historical phenomena, their functions situated in the lifeworld of the cultures that employ them. But research into cartoonish artforms and genres has rarely engaged with the cultural and historical diversity of the cartoon, wrongly taking the aesthetics of the modern European caricature for granted.

This panel invites discussion into the vast and varied cultural and historical array of cartoonised aesthetics, while narrowly focusing analysis on its most striking semiotic dimensions – those connected to the principle that Gregory Currie described as representational correspondence (2010): »for a given representational work, only certain features of the representation serve to represent features of the things represented«. Understood in this narratological approach as a license or accommodation for representation, the negotiable validity of some of the semiotic resources offered in a cartoonish picture invites debate and critique from pragmatic, ethical, and political points of view. Are stereotypical anamorphoses such as an enlarged nose, sharpened teeth, or exaggerated bosoms mere traditional and comical schemata without further reference, or do they denigrate, emphasize, connote, and reproduce hegemonic relations?

So far, even the most obvious connections to the traditions of European anti-semitic and colonial racist gazes have rarely been systematically analyzed (cf. Gray 2004), and deeper considerations of gender and class have been mostly focused on some of the most recent popular artforms (cf. e.g. Nolan 2008, Madrid 2016) and have yet to realize the analytical and explicatory potential of a dedicated semiotic study. The ideologies nested in the semiotic third space (Packard 2006, 2016; Wilde 2020) afforded between the reference and the exaggeration of the cartoon deserve greater and semiotically precise scrutiny.

Semiotics in the Lifeworld – General Conference Call

The 15th World Congress of Semiotics aims to foreground semiotics as the socially engaged, critical investigation of the sign- and meaning-making processes forming the core of human worldmaking. Semiotic investigation is grounded in the historical lifeworld, in concrete timescapes and semioscapes, in the dense and dynamic weave of semiotic practices that structure human experience and communicative (inter)action by constantly (re)articulating the perceptual and the conceptual, the discursive and the performative, the ethical and the aesthetic, the ideological and the figurative, the material and the immaterial, the human and the non-human, the natural and the man-made.

Call for panel proposals: June 1 – August 15, 2021
Call for paper abstracts: September 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022


A Cartoon for Our Readers from AHSN Member
Julia de Bres, Massey University NZ


Title: “The Critical Discourse Analysis Cake Shop”


Julia de Bres is Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.  She is a critical sociolinguist and discourse analyst specialising in how language is used to reproduce and challenge social inequality, and she is currently researching how parents construct their experience of parenting a gender-diverse child.  She is also a freelance illustrator, whose drawings have appeared in magazines, social media, blogs, and soon a book.


The Humour Studies Digest

The Australasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN)

‘We put the “U” back into “HUMOUR”!’

Send your Digest Submissions to our Co-Editors

Michael at Michael.meany@newcastle.edu.au or Jessica at Jessica.davis@sydney.edu.au

To Subscribe or unsubscribe, visit the AHSN Web site at http://ahsnhumourstudies.org/




Follow us on our social media sites.