‘I Tried to Make Him Laugh, He Didn’t Get the Joke…’ – taking punk humour seriously | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2044-1983
  • E-ISSN: 2044-3706



Punk. The sound of the streets, the music of protest, the shouts and screams of the disadvantaged and oppressed, the anguished howl of the underdog, the unclean and the unworthy. Political, agitational, provocative, subversive, awkward, uncompromising, angry and aggressive. Descriptions and definitions of punk – the subculture, the music, the fashion, the lifestyle, the language and the politics – inevitably revolve around stereotypes and generalizations. Consensus, where it can be found, tends to exemplify those same regularly repeated clichés, and important elements become further hidden from view. The use of humour in punk – lyrically, within musical phrasing, song construction and live performance and in the graphic language of punk sleeves, fanzines and posters – is often overlooked. This article comprises two parts. This first part seeks to outline the ways in which humour – through rhetorical codes and strategies including satire, pun, metaphor and metonymy, hyperbole, invective, irony, sarcasm, allegory, exaggeration, parody, repetition, self-deprecation, profanity and the embrace of the absurd or ridiculous were and are central to an understanding of punk language and practice. Within part two of this article, to be published in Punk & Post Punk, further emphasis will be placed on the visual identity of punk and hardcore groups, and on the strategies employed by designers to reflect and support punk’s satirical core.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): comedy; graphic design; humour; parody; punk; rhetoric; satire
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