About the event
Fittingly, International Joke Day was started for a laugh by comedian and writer Wayne Reinagel in 1994 so he could publicise his own joke books. It has no official status and it is unclear how many people really observe it, but that just makes it all the more charming. Jokes aren’t just a trivial matter, they lift others up when they’re sad, they reveal useful cultural insights and importantly, they allow us to be more honest. This is a day to celebrate the importance of jokes and comedy in our lives.
How to approach it
There are several angles one could take with this day. Firstly, this is another opportunity to introduce a global, cross cultural perspective into your classroom. Ask students to find jokes from around the world and compare them to jokes that they like. They are sure to find some funny ones and possibly ones they find a bit confusing. Use this as an opportunity to educate your class on cultural differences. Discuss with them, why do some cultures or communities find certain things funny while others do not? Is it different customs, different world-views, experiences or something else? What does this exercise show we all have in common? What themes emerge?
Secondly, you could encourage your students to be creative, ask them to come up with their own jokes or comedic routines, have them research or recount their favourites to the class. The BBC and National Literacy Trust’s Comedy Classroom has an amazing set of resources for primary and secondary school students to help with this. Ask them: what’s your favourite meme, joke or sketch? What makes it funny? Discuss with your students what the benefits of joke telling could be. You could also touch the negative consequences of telling certain jokes. Don’t linger on the negative aspect too long. Instead, ask: how can our jokes lift people up? How can jokes change things for the better? How can we be kind and compassionate whilst also being funny?
Jokes are a great way to find out what people think about the world. People find different things funny because they have different cultures and perspectives on what the world is like. See if you can find a joke from another culture today. Do you find it funny or not? What similarities does the joke have to your own favourite jokes? What differences does it have?