Narratives about humorous life events in the community tradition

Compared to the 1960s, an analysis of today’s humorous narratives based on real-life events allows to identify some dynamic changes in community folklore. The most volatile factor in this study is the sociocultural situation: the topics of the narratives continue shifting forward in time, reflecting the experience that the community members have accumulated in life. The tradition shows a receding tendency in rural villages, but is more active in circles of colleagues or friends, in clubs and societies, etc. As far as humour theories are concerned, the most important point to make here is that the topicality of the repertoire of narratives based on real-life events in both real and imagined communities lies in the actual experiencing of the event or incident, which is then relived through the narrative. This is how a repeatedly heard story, unlike a repeatedly heard joke, can still be interesting. As in ordinary life, laughter is triggered by understanding the scripts that deviate from the norm and are incompatible with each other.

An English version of the article has been published in: Scala naturae. Festschrift in Honour of Arvo Krikmann for his 75th birthday. Ed. by Anneli Baran, Liisi Laineste, Piret Voolaid. Tartu: ELM Scholarly Press, 2014, pp. 327–435.