What’s so Funny about a Dead Terrorist?

Paul Lewis

in A Decade of Dark Humor

Published by University Press of Mississippi

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9781617030062
Published online March 2014 | e-ISBN: 9781617030079 | DOI:
What’s so Funny about a Dead Terrorist?

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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This chapter examines what internationally powerful mass humor scandals/stories suggest about new directions for empirical research on humor and satire and highlights the need for a new kind of approach to humor studies in the digital age. Focusing on the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark and Jeff Dunham’s sketch “Achmed, the Dead Terrorist,” each of which features humor about terrorists and terrorism, it discusses the contrast between tactless and tactful treatments of potentially explosive materials after 9/11 and illustrates what happens when a joke goes wrong or when satire misfires.

Keywords: humor; satire; cartoons; Prophet Muhammad; Denmark; Jeff Dunham; Achmed; the Dead Terrorist; terrorism; 9/11

Chapter.  8040 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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