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Religion and Senses of Humour

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The study of humour / comedy / laughter is established within sociological study, but has been overlooked in the academic study of religion. This volume seeks to fill this gap. It is written within a Study of Religions multi-methodology, focusing upon embodied, performative and lived approaches to everyday religious acts, beliefs and communities. It explores how comedy, humour and their performative and material manifestations are enacted by both religious ‘insiders’ and by ‘outsiders’ or opponents of religion. Senses of humour within, about and because of religion are explored and it foregrounds narratives of humour as a religious or anti-religious act.

The volume looks at how ‘senses of humour’ in religious acts, or acts about religion, co-exist and interact with other senses; auditory comedic performances with call and response relationships between performer/priest and audience/congregation; visual gags and material artworks; absurdity and mockery of senses of place, decorum and religious entitlement or rank; auditory-only radio performances; spoken-word satire and word-play; ‘belly- laughing’, ‘shaking with laughter’ and crossing the boundaries of ‘good taste’ and ‘tastelessness’. Contributors are scholars from a variety of backgrounds, genders and ethnicities and the volume includes explorations of non-majority traditions and non-Anglophone communities.

Published: Nov 1, 2026


Section Chapter Authors
Series Introduction Graham Harvey
Introduction Stephen Gregg
Chapter 1
The Far Side of Religion Timothy Stanley
Chapter 2
Fart and Bum Jokes: Everyday Religion and Children's Literature Anita Lawrence
Chapter 3
How does it Feel to be a Cartoonist after the Muhammad Controversy? Pål Botvar
Chapter 4
Reductio ad Absurdum: Purposeful Offence in Comedy and Religion Stephen Gregg
Chapter 5
“There were an Atheist, a Jew, and a Muslim…”: (Non)Religion in Contemporary Comedy Ilaria Biano
Chapter 6
A Joke, Just Like on Top Gear: A Theological Reading of the Work of Stewart Lee Manon James
Chapter 7
The Double-Edged Knife of Humour in Indonesia - Dakwah and Religious Blasphemy Yuangga Kurnia Yahya
Chapter 8
Jesus in the Guava Tree – Mockery and Memes against Brazilian Pentecostalism Leonardo Vasconcelos de Castro Moreira
Chapter 9
Smiling Pain: Coping with Illness and Death through Humour Giorgio Scalici
Chapter 10
A Laughing Guru: Finding Meaning through Jokes and Humour Nicole Graham