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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Disaster Humor (a new item on my research agenda for all the time I spend reading/sharing Coronavirus jokes)

As noted in my previous post on quarantine hacks, I am finding comic relief with the many great videos, memes, jokes, rants, and drawings related to the outbreak. I've long appreciated my friend Pete McGraw's research on comedy and the role of humor in marketing,  coping, social coordination, and well-being. This article with his collaborators discusses the way humor helped victims of Hurricane Sandy, here's a glimpse:

  We examine how humorous responses to a tragedy change over time by measuring reactions to jokes about Hurricane Sandy. Inconsistent with the belief that the passage of time monotonically increases humor, but consistent with the benign violation theory of humor, a longitudinal study reveals that humorous responses to Sandy’s destruction rose, peaked, and eventually fell over the course of one hundred days. Time creates a comedic sweet spot that occurs when the psychological distance from a tragedy is large enough to buffer people from threat (creating a benign violation), but not so large that the event becomes a purely benign, non-threatening situation. The finding can help psychologists understand how people cope and provide clues to what makes things funny and when they will be funny.

With Covid-19, the disaster's timeline is much less defined than events like a hurricane. So the lifespan of the jokes will certainly be different. Also the global nature of the crisis and its multifaceted effects: health, economics, social, labor, education, political, international relations etc means the jokes and memes are highly varied. 

In a next post (seriously, this is becoming a research project I think) I will be cataloging and identifying types of humor emerging in these past days. Would love your help in collecting humor - anything you think is kinda funny - send my way to the special email account I collected for the project [email protected]

here is one for you - in the historical perspective / learning from our past category:

Image result for dinosaur washing hands meme





Posted by Orly Lobel on March 19, 2020 at 04:59 PM | Permalink


Here to the executive order( California) stay at home:


Posted by: El roam | Mar 20, 2020 5:06:39 PM

This is an awesome idea.

Curious if the length of time that it takes for an event to become benign depends on the size of the event. No one is threatened by the Holocaust or 9/11, but humor is touching 75 and 20 years later. A joke about Sandy just doesn't rate.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Mar 20, 2020 4:44:25 PM

New Yorker magazine has been running lots-some of them are funny, but many hit home--the real purpose of humor. Stay well, all

Posted by: beverly buck | Mar 19, 2020 7:12:15 PM

Great, simply great, I would definitely help this guy. As a starter:

" Coron" ( like " moron " suppose ). A person, causing all around damage. Wherever he goes, Whatever he is up to, spreading damage all around. So, he is a goddam " coron".

P.S: Why " seriously" ? such research, is very complex, very serious.


Posted by: El roam | Mar 19, 2020 5:30:52 PM

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