Invitational Rhetoric and Humor: Making Audience Laugh, Inviting Them to Think

David R. Nelson, George Pacheco Jr.


Humor is a resource for discourse dealing with the taboo. Through the use of humor, comedians can practice uninhibited use of free public speech because audiences expect to laugh in these situations. This inherent expectation creates an environment where expression, objective opinions, and otherwise offensive ideas can be shared in a public space without fear of persecution or repercussion. As such, humor message creators are free to push social boundaries to create a discourse necessary to address what would be offensive. This freedom is important to this work because of how comedians approach the use of stereotypical ethnic humor. The culmination of audience expectation and openness creates an environment readily available for analysis of ethnic humor messages by researchers. Using the lens of Invitational Rhetoric, we uncover rhetorical messages embedded in the humor that work to challenge negative stereotypes about identity.

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