Webinar Series Overview

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Society postponed its 33rd Conference to June 27 to July 2, 2022. In its place, the Society held a series of six webinars to run on alternate Fridays from April 9 through June 18, 2021.  Each webinar started at 10:00 am Pacific Daylight Savings Time (5:00 pm UTC). Webinar registration was included with 2021 ISHS membership.  ISHS members could register online for each webinar by clinking on a link provided with the webinar descriptions below.  ISHS members and invited panelists received automatic registration confirmation and entry into their chosen webinars.

Access to all six webinars was a membership benefit. Nonmembers could register for and receive access to one of the six webinars to sample what the Society has to offer, ISHS Members can access the Webinar recordings by clicking on the links provided below and entering the password mailed with the Fall 2021 newsletter.

The individual webinars with their topics, speakers, and dates follow below.


Webinars 1 and 2

The Contingent Dynamics of Political Humor
Recorded April 9, 2021, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT (5:00 pm - 7:00 pm UTC)
Organizers: Sammy Basu, Willamette University, USA
and Massih Zekavat, Europa-Universität Flensburg, Germany

The first webinar focuses on political humor in advance of a special issue of the European Journal of Humour Research on the same topic. The webinar and the special issue will focus on interdisciplinary scholarly works that address the repressive and irrepressible dynamics of humour by locating the actual practices and instances of political humour that succeed, fall flat, or backfire within their relevant historical, institutional and cultural contexts. This webinar will include the following presentations.

Power and Satire in the Front Page Images of Mariano Rajoy:
Visual Motifs as Political Humour

Manuel Garin, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
Daniel Pérez-Pamies, Universitat de Girona, Spain

Spontaneous Humour and Malaysia’s Democratic Breakthrough in 2018
Shanon Shah, King’s College London, United Kingdom

Trevor Noah and the Contingent Politics of Racial Joking
Jennalee Donian, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
and Nicholas Holm Massey, University, New Zealand

Click here for the Video Recording of The Contingent Dynamics of Political Humor (ISHS Password Required)

Is Comedy "Tragedy plus Time"? Roundtable
Recorded April 23, 2021, 10:00 am -12:00 pm PDT (5:00 pm - 7:00 pm UTC)
Organizers: Patrice Oppliger, Boston University, USA
and Eric Shouse, Eastern Carolina University, USA

: Katie Mears, Vulture.com
and Darren Valenta, St. Cloud State University, USA

This webinar will debate the ever-popular expression “comedy is tragedy plus time” and the idea that humor is always the result of “benign violations.” Stand-up comedians who reference ongoing mental and physical illnesses in their acts also challenge relief theories of humor by sometimes creating tension without offering a definitive release. Like the dark side of stand-up comedy more generally, the humor of comedians such as Maria Bamford, Neal Brennan, and Tig Notaro is a paradoxical and incongruous blend of tragedy and comedy that cannot be easily resolved. We will expand on the chapter, “An Incongruous Blend of Tragedy and Comedy: How Maria Bamford Lightens the Dark Side of Mental Illness,” from The Dark Side of Stand-Up Comedy (2020).

Click here for the Video Recording of Is Comedy "Tragedy plus Time"? Roundtable (ISHS Password Required)


Webinars 3 and 4

Mutating Discriminatory Representations through Humor
or How Humorists Ascribe, Disguise, and Shift Stereotypes

Recorded May 7, 2021, 10:00 am -12:00 pm PDT (5:00 pm - 7:00 pm UTC)
Organizer: Villy Tsakona, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Discussant: Jan Chovanec, Masaryk University Brno, Czech Republic

One of the most hotly debated topics in humor research involves whether humor influences and/or reflects social reality and public opinion, how, to what extent, and under what circumstances. This topic is usually raised when humorous texts involving discriminatory content (e.g. racist, sexist, classist) are discussed. On the one hand, traditional approaches to humor argue that, since humor belongs to non-bona-fide communication, where nothing serious, sincere, relevant, or accurate is to be expected, humorous texts neither reflect social reality nor intend to cause offence. It is therefore suggested that humor cannot be blamed for promoting racist, sexist, or other discriminatory views and stereotypes, although it may exploit them to make people laugh.
        On the other hand, more recent critical approaches to humorous discourse claim that humor can create and be considered responsible for disseminating prejudicial views and stereotypes by ridiculing specific targets, such as ethnic groups, migrants, women, lawyers, homosexuals, and politicians. Both superiority and relief theories of humor capture this dimension of humor: in the first case, humor attacks a supposedly inferior target, while, in the second, humor allows speakers to express themselves in socially unacceptable and condemnable ways. Consequently, critical research on humor seems to be more sociopolitically and culturally sensitive: topics such as the limits of humor in specific contexts, the thin line between humor and offense, its sociopolitical repercussions, and its effects on social relations have nowadays become the foci of analysis.
       Following a critical line of research, this webinar includes studies investigating the ways discrimination may be reproduced in humorous genres as well as how and why it may be perceived or missed by their recipients. This webinar will include the following presentations.

Whose Stereotypes are These Anyway?
Examining the Intersection of Humor and Cultural Identity

Aleksandar Takovski, AAB College, Kosovo

Incongruity in Disguise: A Multimodal Study of the Migration Crisis in Political Cartoons
Anna Piata, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
and Stavros Assimakopoulos, University of Malta

From Poverty-Stricken to Uncivilized 'Other':
The Evolution of Stereotypes about Migrants in Greek Online Jokes
Argiris Archakis, University of Patras, Greece
and Villy Tsakona, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Click here for the Video Recording of Mutating Discriminatory Representations (ISHS Password Required)

Humor and Artificial Intelligence
Recorded May 21, 2021, 10:00 am -12:00 pm PDT (5:00 pm - 7:00 pm UTC)
Organizer: Christian Hempelmann, Texas A&M University–Commerce, USA

Other Panelists: Julia Taylor Rayz, Purdue University, USA
Tristan Miller, Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence
and Tiansi Dong, Bonn University, Germany

Christian Hempelmann will begin with an overview of past approaches to generating and analyzing humor computationally up to 2015. As in its parent discipline, computational linguistics, early approaches were symbolic, rule- and resource-based. Since the 1990s, the methodology came increasingly from computer sciences and was probabilistic, up to the unexplainable algorithms of machine learning.
         Julia Rayz will continue the presentation from 2015 and provide a brief overview of the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary intelligent systems, concentrating on their ability to “understand” text and make inferences, loosely described as learning. It will follow by applicability of various language models to computational humor.
         Tristan Miller will present on how puns and wordplay are humorous stylistic features that are recurrent in literary texts but are among the most challenging for humans to translate. In this talk, he will describe how AI can provide specialized support to translators working with puns.
         Tiansi Dong will address the research on cognitive maps and how jokes can be understood as a collage of two cognitive maps. The presentation will emphasize the neuro-symbolic procedures to acquire such a collage, and will address the important roles humor plays in commonsense reasoning and neuro-symbolic integration. Both are characteristic features of the next generation of AI.
         This webinar will conclude with a roundtable discussion with the audience on the ethics of humor and AI, which has become more relevant as AI becomes more intelligent.

Humor and Artificial Intelligence (ISHS Password Required)


Webinars 5 and 6

Seriously Funny: Humor that Breaks the Rules
Recorded June 4, 2021, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT (5:00 pm - 7:00 pm UTC)
Organizer: Delia Chiaro,  Università di Bologna, Italy

Humour is often seen as a liberating and laughter inducing social phenomenon with no serious consequences. Nevertheless, when politics are involved, humour may take on a moral aspect that violates boundaries and may contribute to occurrences of radicalization. In these talks, we will explore this new understanding of what is humorous and what can occur when communities and groups coalesce around contemporary forms of political humour, especially on the right of the political spectrum, and its fallout both in the public sphere and in online spaces. The presentations in this webinar argue that understanding the social and political context as well as new forms of morality emerging from the cultural milieu is crucial to unlock what is now increasingly becoming a process that can be defined as “seriously funny” and result in political polarization, hate crimes and the need for constant acts of transgression.  The webinar will include the following presentations.

Humor and Polarization
Giselinde Kuipers, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

From London Bridge to Finsbury Mosque: Humour and Hate Crimes
Nikita Lobanov, Università di Bologna Italy

Is Crossing Boundaries Always Liberating?
The Contested Politics of Transgressive Humour

Dick Zijp, Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands

Click here for the Video Recording of Seriously Funny (ISHS Password Required)

Humor as a Personality Characteristic:
New Insights into Individual Differences in Humor and Important Life Outcomes

Recorded June 18, 2021, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT (5:00 pm - 7:00 pm UTC)
Organizer: Jennifer Hofmann, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Discussant: Tracey Platt, University of Sunderland, United Kingdom

The aim of this webinar is to tap into core challenges of psychological humor research, as well as to give you insight into the latest data on humor and important life outcomes in the light of the current pandemic. Firstly, to address an “evergreen challenge,” Willibald Ruch will talk about the assessment of humor. He will give a brief overview on what instruments there are and which ones should be used for which research and application purpose. Secondly, Sonja Heintz will present the latest data on comic styles and coping with the pandemic. Thirdly, René Proyer will show you how the three dispositions towards ridicule and laughter impact on romantic relationships. After the presentations, the insights will be discussed by Tracey Platt and all attendees will have the opportunity to join the discussion and ask questions. This webinar is targeted at anyone interested in the psychology of humor–from students wanting to learn about how to assess humor in their research, practitioners wanting to learn about the influence of humor on life domains such as relationships, as well as new and seasoned humor researchers aiming at expanding their knowledge. The webinar will include the following presentations.

Assessing the Humor Personality:
Is the Instrument I Need Already Constructed? If So, Which one is it?

Willibald Ruch, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Comic Styles and Coping with the Covid-19 Crisis
Sonja Heintz & Konstantin Edelmann, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom

Dealing with Laughter and Ridicule in Romantic Relationships:
Relationship Satisfaction of Gelotophobes, Gelotophiles, and Katagelasticists

René Proyer and Kay Brauer; Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

Click here for the Video Recording of Humor as a Personality Characteristic (ISHS Password Required)