Humour in Times of Crisis

Humour in Times of Crisis

According to the superiority theory, humour emerges where feelings of superiority can be felt (Class 1 CMN4100 Notes). In CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, “Stoner Convoy” Video, humour is expressed where some characters look down upon others. It is an expression of dominance and the frustrated complaint against social orders. In the video, humour is expressed as two people smoking marijuana express their frustration regarding the protest and ridicule the entire process emerging triumphant as they honk to be a part of the protest. The message we want to get across is that the laws on protests are ridiculous and laughable from not only a point of frustration but also one that looks at the superiority/inferiority of how these regulations are set up.

Relief theory, on the other hand, looks at humour from a tension-release perspective. Rather than attempt to define humour and its emergence, the theory focuses on laughter as a result of energy and tension release (Class 1 CMN4100 Notes). In the video, there is obvious tension between law enforcement, protesters, and two adults smoking marijuana in their car. Humor emerges as the two individuals attempt to relieve tension and the same for the police officer when he walks away with the marijuana cigarette. Here, we are freeing ourselves from negative energy created where tension abides.

According to the incongruity theory, something absurd must occur in order for humour to exist. Where understanding fails to find satisfaction, there is a sudden transformation of strained expectations that become humour (Class 1 CMN4100 Notes). For example in the video, we expect that the police officer will arrest the two individuals for smoking marijuana in public. We also expect the definition for protesting to be sufficient in explaining why the two individuals cannot partake in the demonstration. These elements are not only bizarre, but also absurd, unexpected, and therefore incongruous.

The main function of humour in communication is to unite the communicators. Humour is used as a clarification and an identification function (Class 3 CMN4100 Notes). Conversely, humour also divides one set of communicators from another. It does so via the enforcement of norms and the expression of acceptable behavior (Chattoo, 2018). In the video, humour unites the police officer with the smoking adults as they partake in law breaking. It also separates them as the officer attempts to enforce the regulatory expectations.

Stereotypes are used to facilitate understanding by streamlining information regarding a group. For example, the stereotype that marijuana smokers are constantly in a state of confusion is used to expand the concept of irony and satire. Irony emerges as the smokers question the police officer and poke holes on the regulation regarding protests.

In my opinion, the humour presented in the video is not offensive. Irony emerges as the absence of information leads to the use of stereotypes about protesters. Stereotype, in the video, is not used in an offensive manner. I think the director carefully uses stereotypes to highlight the relationship between the different entities, including, peaceful protesters, law breakers, and law enforcement. There are rules in humour that adhere to ethics and the justice system (Class 2 CMN4100 Notes). Humour highlights a real-life situation, albeit with some exaggeration, on how normal people interact with the law. The most sensitive elements that the video touches on include the rules of protesting, smoking marijuana while driving, and the partaking of marijuana by a police officer while on duty. The actions of the police officer are not what would be expected of a law enforcement officer. He seems unaware of the fact that the two individuals are breaking the law. Ethical issues emerge also when the police officer seemingly “steals” marijuana, an illegal substance, and walks away. As the two individual try to report the “crime” the irony is not missed.


Chattoo, C. B. (2019). A funny matter: Toward a framework for understanding the function of comedy in social change. Humor, 32(3), 499-523.

Class 1 CMN4100 Notes

Class 2 CMN4100 Notes

Class 3 CMN4100 Notes