Humor 2.0

Humor 2.0

How the Internet Changed Humor

By Salvatore Attardo

The book shows how humor has changed since the advent of the internet: new genres, new contexts, and new audiences. The book provides a guide to such phenomena as memes, video parodies, photobombing, and cringe humor. It also shows how the cognitive mechanisms of humor remain unchanged.

Hardback, 294 Pages


August 2023

£80.00, $110.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

The book provides a comprehensive discussion of the new humor that has appeared on the internet. The book is divided into five sections: First, the introduction, which explains the idea that humor has changed since the widespread adoption of the internet and social media. The introduction reviews the theoretical tools that will be applied throughout the book: a discussion of humor theory and memes and how they function. The discussion is kept engaging and readable but is nonetheless based on rigorous scholarship, presented clearly by a well-known humor researcher.

Part 1 collects several chapters on the new humorous genres that have appeared on the internet: the humorous meme, the compilation video, online digital cartoons, the “stuff white people like” phenomenon, Dogecoin, the joke crypto-currency, and of course satirical news, such as The Onion. The overall point is that many of these phenomena are completely native to the internet/social media or have been significantly affected by the distribution via the internet.

Part 2 considers in more detail a number of examples of humorous memes: they include the Cheryl She Shed meme, the BoatyMcBoatface incident in which the crowdsourcing of the name for a boat went awry, Pastafarianism, the joke religion, grumpy cats, and the Chuck Norris memes. Part 3 considers multimodal humorous genres: the Hitler rant, photobombing, embarrassment (“cringe”) comedy, rant-to-music videos, and music video parodies. Here too, these new genres can exist only due to the availability of platforms such as Youtube or TikTok. Part 4 looks at the dark side of internet humor, considering the use of humor by the alt. right on 4chan and 8chan, trolling, and related phenomena. The last chapter looks at humorous cartoon “mascots” such as Pepe the Frog and Kek, which have been appropriated by the right.

The first comprehensive guide to humor in the age of the internet and social media, this book will make you laugh (for the examples) and will enlighten you (for the analyses). Hopefully.


“As the preeminent scholar on language and humor, Attardo takes readers on a fascinating tour of various forms of internet humor. With examples ranging from the prosaic to the political, Attardo shows us how the human capacity to produce and interpret humor – while remaining fundamentally unchanged – has been fully exploited in the realm of the digital.” — Camilla Vásquez, PhD, Professor of Applied Linguistics & Associate Editor, Discourse, Context & Media, Department of World Languages, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL

“Humor 2.0: How the Internet Changed Humorby Salvatore Attardo is a book internet researchers have been waiting for, even if they don’t know it yet. Not only meant for the academic audience, it summarizes in an entertaining yet scholarly way the many ways that humor is the same yet different after the advent of the digital era. This is a truly timely and worthwhile topic to tackle, and Attardo has managed to make a brilliant contribution to understanding online humor. — LiisiLaineste, Senior Research Fellow, Estonian Literary Museum Researcher, Tartu University

“Humor 2.0: How the Internet Changed Humoris just as fascinating as internet humor itself. Written in an accessible and most engaging way, Attardo’s book guides the reader through the bright but also the dark sides of internet humor, showing that such new forms of expression blend seamlessly with humor’s lasting versatility and sociocultural relevance.” — Anna Piata, Assistant Professor, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

“This book is a clever and witty exploration of the many ways in which the internet has revolutionized humor. From memes to viral videos, Attardo delves into the many manifestations and impact of digital humor, showing us how the internet has transformed the comedic landscape and the way we communicate when we copiously click and share what makes us laugh with like-minded others.”— Delia Chiaro, Professor of English Language and Translation, Department of Interpreting and Translation, Alma mater studiorum, Università di Bologna

“Humor 2.0not only offers a wide-ranging analysis of internet humor as currently generated on social media but also provides a historical overview. The book offers an interesting account of how the affordances of the new virtual platforms and interfaces where humor is attempted and generated have provoked alterations in humorous communication, compared to more traditional sources and contexts of humor. Among many others are laid upon multimodal discourses such as memes, messaging interactions (text-emoji combinations) and live streaming.” —Francisco Yus, Full Professor, University of Alicante, Department of English Studies

The book covers a wide range of topics and concepts used for the analysis of internet humour and I am positive that there cannot be any reader (whether expert one working on internet humour or non-expert one interested in it) who will not find something of interest in it to read. It is written in short, easy-to-read chapters, so readers can focus on what interests them most and take one step at a time with their reading. Attardo offers a fascinating and most inspiring snapshot of contemporary internet humour —The European Journal of Humour Research

Author Information

Salvatore Attardo is a well-known humor scholar, who has published several books on humor and edited the Encyclopedia of Humor Studies.


No series for this title.

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1.Humor and the Internet; 2.Memetics; 3.Humor Theory; Part 1.New genres; 4.The New Language of Humor; 5.The Compilation; 6.Internet Cartoons; 7.Stuff White People Like; 8.Dogecoin, the Joke Currency; 9. The Spoiler Alert; 10.Satirical News Websites and Fake News; Part 2.Memes and More Memes; 11.Memetic Drift or The Alliteration Arsonist; 12.The Saga of Boaty McBoatface; 13.A General Theory of Grumpy Cats; 14.The Pastafarian Memeplex: Joke Religion as a System; 15.When Chuck Norris Is Waiting, Godot Comes; 16.The Half-life of a Meme: The Rise and Fall of Memes; Part 3.Multimodality; 17.Hitler’s Opinion on the Parking Situation in Tel Aviv; 18.Photobombing as Figure Ground Reversal; 19.“Hard to Watch”: Cringe and Embarrassment Humor ; 20.Humor Videos; 21.Reaction Videos; Part 4.The Dark Side of Internet Humor; 22.The Use of Humor by the Alt-Right; 23.4chan, Trolls and Lulz: Fascists at Play; 24.Pepe, Kek and Friends; Conclusion: Plus ça change…; Bibliography; Author; Index; Subject Index


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