Which Person Walks Into a Bar? A Typology of Globally Spread Humor on Twitter

Asaf Nissenbaum, David Freud


Our study examines user-generated global humor through an analysis of comic items spread on Twitter. By addressing the inherent conflict between the locality of humor and the globalizing digital participatory sphere, we aim to uncover the features of global user-generated humor. A long-term sample of humor keywords in multiple languages, including more than 250 million tweets, was processed and filtered to locate items reaching global audiences (N = 734), which were then analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively (a subset of 143). We found that such items focused on “the universal” rather than on a multicultural exchange. Additionally, the comic failures featured in the sample were outlined, ranging from the personal and concrete to the societal and abstract. These findings portray digital global humor as a liminal space existing everywhere and nowhere at once and as balancing individual failures through collective laughter while presenting ambiguous subversive messages.


humor, failure, digital culture, globalization, localization

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