The Joke as a Crucial Genre of Folklore: Form, Content and Implications in Our 21st Century

Africa and World Literature (University of Nigeria Journal of Literary Studies), 2011

17 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2020

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Folklore is the traditional art, literature, knowledge and practice that are disseminated largely through oral communication. It refers to the traditional beliefs, legends and customs current among the common people. It consists of the things that a given set of people traditionally believe, do, know and say; their world view and outlook to life, handed over to them from generation to generation orally, that is through a mouth-tomouth contact. Folklore comprised of proverbs, idioms, folktales, riddles, myths, customs, legends, beliefs, magic, folksongs, charms, spells, incantations among other things found among a homogeneous group of people. From the above, one can easily decipher the absence of joke among the list of items from the oral tradition that make up the folklore family. Joke is one of the genres of folklore in the sense that it shares many of the properties, characteristics and aesthetics that made up all other elements of folklore. Joke reflects the culture, tradition, attitude, ways of life, perceptions, ethics and outlook to life peculiar to a homogeneous group of people. It gives a picture of any society in transition and reflects what a group of people normally do and believe in. through jokes one can learn about various facets of society unknown to one. This study examines and establishes joke as a genre of folklore with a detailed study of the various characteristics, properties and aesthetics of jokes as found in our society. This was done through a random selection of some of the popular jokes in our society. The study in the end established joke as a unique genre of folklore and highlights of the various sociopolitical, cultural, economic and religious implications of these jokes in our society. The paper concludes with the relevance of these jokes in our 21st century and recommends further interest and befitting study among scholars of oral literature on jokes as a crucial element of folklore in society.

Suggested Citation

Asika, Ikechukwu, The Joke as a Crucial Genre of Folklore: Form, Content and Implications in Our 21st Century (2011). Africa and World Literature (University of Nigeria Journal of Literary Studies), 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3648445 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3648445

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