Level I & M
It's only a laugh! What does it matter if
we tell Irish
and Belgian jokes anyway?
• Stereotypes and prejudice.
• How humour is often used to maintain
or fuel prejudice.
• Personal responsibility to respond
to situations we disagree with.
• To explore the basis of our humour
• To be aware of the effects of jokes
both on us and on those against whom the jokes are told
• To start discussion about the fears
which are hidden in the jokes we tell
Time: 45 minutes
Group size: Any
Gather a variety of jokes appropriate to
your group including those:
• against people such as vegetarians,
rich people, Jews,
• disabled people,
• politicians, pop stars, foreigners,
• about taboo subjects,
• puns and word plays
• tricks and practical jokes to be
played against a member of the group
• You will also need a hat
• A large sheet of paper or flipchart
and pen to mark up the scores.
1. Write the jokes on slips of paper and
put them in a hat.
2. Get everyone to sit in a circle and the
pass round the hat and ask players in turn to take out one
piece of paper, and then to read or act out the joke to
the rest of the group.
3. The rest of the group rate the joke by
giving it a score out of ten.
4. On a command from you or on at a count
of three ask the players to vote by a show of fingers.
5. Mark up the scores on a flipchart.
Debriefing and evaluation
Talk about how people felt while playing
the game and then go on to ask:
• Which joke won and why?
• Which joke got the least votes
• How do you feel when the joke
is against you or about something you feel strongly about?
• What sort of jokes are the
• What makes a joke unacceptable?
• What's the harm in telling
• What do you do when someone
tells an offensive joke
laugh because your friends do
tell the person you think they are
out of order
leave the group but don't say anything?
Tips for the facilitator
The choice of jokes is important because
it enables you keep control of an activity which could easily
get out of hand.
Include both destructive and constructive
jokes in your selection. Cartoons may be the best source
of jokes, which help us learn something positive about ourselves
and the world.
Beware of jokes which might deeply offend
some members of the group. It may be instructive to include
some jokes, especially practical jokes against some members
of the group.
Suggestions for follow up
Start a collection of cartoons and jokes
to share with each other. Make a permanent space on a pin
board to display them. Or make up your own jokes or cartoons
to share with other groups and organisations. Try to get
them published in your local paper or organization's newsletter.
Look further at how we discriminate against
certain groups and then blame them for it. Use 'Just
do it!'. Alternatively, explore ways of how to respond
best in difficult situations, use 'Sharing
Making offensive jokes is a common form
of bullying. If you want to work on developing skills to
deal with bullying then you may like to look at the activity,
'Do we have
alternatives?' in Compass.
If you want to take a humorous look at human
rights then look in chapter 4 of Compass, which is illustrated
with cartoons drawn by Pancho. The second activity under
the heading 'Picture
games' is 'What do you see in Pancho?' Try it; you may
be surprised how different people can see different things
in the same cartoon!
What seems funny to some people can be offensive
to others. In 'Stories told
by young people', section 4 of Domino you will find
a short story told by Anna Smolen from Poland, which you
may find useful as a starting point for discussion about