I am sort of reviewing my newly arrived copy of Legman’s Rationale of the Dirty Joke, but thought I’d share the opening lines of the book with you:
“Under the mask of humor, our society allows infinite aggressions, by everyone and against everyone. In the culminating laugh by the listener or observer–whose position is really that of the victim or butt–the teller of the joke betrays his hidden hostility and signals his victory by being, theoretically at least, the one person present who does not laugh. Compulsive storytellers and joke-tellers express almost openly the hostile components of their need, by forcing their jokes upon frankly unwilling audiences among their friends and loved ones, and upon every new person they meet. Often they proffer this openly as their only social grace. the listener’s expected laughter is, therefore, in a most important but unspoken way, a shriving of the teller, a reassurance that he has not been caught, that the listener has partaken with him, willy-nilly, in the hostility or sexuality of the joke, or has even acceded in being its victim or butt.” (Rationale, 1st Series, first page.)
I’ve finished my analysis of the introduction here.