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The Persuasive Force of Political Humor


Journal of Communication

Published online on


Political humor is ubiquitous in some contexts and forbidden in others, and yet scholars have described political humor as unreliable and attempts to control its meaning as futile. How do speakers design political humor to influence audiences, and why do they expect those designs to work? We argue that speakers design persuasive political humor by making visible their intent and undertaking obligations to act in accord with specific norms. We explain how designs constrain audiences from discounting the message as just a joke and create reasons to scrutinize arguments.