Holistic Approaches to Jokes

Holistic Approaches to Jokes


Cartoons have been used to create jokes. The five elements that make a cartoon funny include the use of symbolisms, analogy, irony and exaggerations. Cartoonists consider their work the art that creates jokes of whatever magnitude. Cartoons and jokes are usually directed towards a certain audience if these jokes are to give the intended results. In this assignment, a political joke was chosen from the Mail Online to describe the current joke with refugees. The choices of this cartoon were inspired by the influx of refugees into Europe, but none of the rich Gulf Nations considers their stands on emigration policies and sees the need to provide asylum. I also consider this cartoon exaggerating the Gulf Nations leaders who confidently contribute to digging a grave for refugees.

Annotation of the carton

The above cartoon can be noted with the following context:

1) The cartoon shows a large crowd standing over a fresh grave. The group is dressed in the official Arabian attires, which suggests that they are leaders of the rich Arabian countries who, and especially the Gulf Nations, have persistently indicated that they will not allow refugees in their country and these countries have not allowed any either. The crowd of leaders is large, suggesting that they are united on the issue of refugees. Their contribution to digging the grave suggests that they care less about the refugees’ crisis looming over Europe today.

2) Within the cartoon, context is the spades that are used to dig the graves. These spades are drawn in such a way that the Arab elders who hold them might be the likely individuals who dig the graves. If it is not them digging the grave, they do not care about dying refugees, and they had better not enter their countries.

3) Within the cartoon, scene is about a lying boy. He presumed dead because he is lying close to a fresh grave that is being dug. The boy is a refugee with no luck to survive the harsh environments of war ton countries and crossing the sea to safer countries. The cartoon image is sad, especially from those supporting the boy and refugees.

4) The grave can be the third distinct context in this cartoon. The grave is between the leaders and the boy. The grave might also represent the sea between refugee origin and the Arab world, suggesting that the Arabs are confident that refugees will seldom reach their countries before they die.

The Aspect of the Emirati Culture that This Cartoon Pokes Fun at

The aspect of the Emirati culture that this cartoon pokes fun at is the anti-migrant policy. These countries are wealthy but they cannot take up any emergence of a situation. In addition, the rich Arab countries are known for their discrimination when dealing with foreigners. Even employment, these countries prefer high skilled but foreigners as migrant workers as compared to low-skilled workers. The revelation of this discrimination is reflected as a culture of the rich Gulf Nations, and the same culture is reflected when dealing with refugees.

Emirati Who will probably Laugh at This Cartoon and Who because of Their Cultural Background will not?

The context is a sad scene and it reflects the current refugee incidents across Europe from Syria and other warring countries. There are no Emirati who will laugh at this cartoon, unless they are the type of people who are not educated. The cartoon is political in nature. Instead of laughing at it, most Emirati people looking at this cartoon will become sad and sympathize with the migrants. However, because of their country’s policies, they will not do anything to change them rather than sit and wait how the occurrences will unfold. However, since irony makes the a greater part of the cartooning network, the fact that the Emirati leaders and their cultural policy toward low-skilled foreigners do not change, the entire population can be thought of as capable of causing laughter with the current cartoon. Unless they change their stand against refugees and accept some number of asylum, they will not be termed as laughing at the boy who awaits burial with his death caused by his attempt to find a better life.

The Aspects of the Cartoon That Require the Longest Explanation

While most aspects, symbolism, caption and labels, analogy and symbolisms are clear in the select cartoon above, exaggeration may require the longest explanation. Exaggeration in the cartoon is considered an overstating and magnifying a problem to the extent that the intended meaning is considered somehow lost. Cartoonists will overstate some aspects of the cartoon through overdoing a scene of a physical character. In the above-mentioned cartoon, elements of exaggeration are seen with the several Arabian leaders standing behind a freshly dug grave. The number of leaders is more than the expected number of the Gulf Nations that have not admitted any refugee in their country despite the crisis. Therefore, cartoonist Hassan Babar wanted to lay emphasis on the dozen of leaders who watch the refugee crisis while continuing to shut their country’s borders.

Exaggeration is not only demonstrated with the number of leaders who stand in front of the grave but also within the scene. While irony can be used to explain the occurrences within scenes, the cartoonist lays too much emphasis by indicating that leaders hold spades and are involved in digging graves for migrants. The softer way the cartoonist would draw this cartoon is by removing direct responsibility from the Gulf Nations leaders as contributors to the refugees’ deaths.

A Way to Make the Cartoon Funnier or Easier to Understand

The above-discussed cartoon is a political joke and is meant to send a political-humanitarian message to its audience. Therefore, its theme does not demonstrate laughter even though Freud’s psychological theory may demand fun from this cartoon. Nevertheless, to fulfill the purpose, one way to make this cartoon funny is to introduce an alternative. At least the cartoonist could have included an alternative to the refugees who want to cross to the Gulf Nations. The message could be clear if the cartoonist had indicated where the Gulf Nations want refugees to go. One of the possible suggestions of including the alternative of where the Gulf Nations want refugees to go is to draw or to introduce the countries that accept them. Germany and the United States are such countries. Perhaps, the cartoonist could have introduced these two countries in the scene to try to stage their influence on the deaths of refugees while the Gulf Nations look on. Due to differences or cultural context, this cartoon and the new addition may look funnier to the Emirati but to the Western world, it may look like extreme violation of human rights.

How the Alterations Borrow from the Context?

The alteration or introduction for the two countries into the scene could be an inspiration of the reality, things that happen in the present refugee crisis. In addition, the alteration and the introduction of both the United States and Germany leaders blend to the scene where the wealthiest Arab world nations do not take any refugees while few countries accept some. The context in this cartoon revolves around refugees; hence, the introduction of two countries with their perceptions on refugees borrows from the context. One group of countries supports refugees, while another group does not support them.

Does the Alteration Change the Context?

The introduction of two countries into the cartoon scene will not alter the context. The context remains bitter as refugee crisis looms over the world today. Both the United States and Germany are the main absorbers of these refugees, and they may have their side of the story concerning how they feel about refugees or about the Gulf Nations’ leaders who do not have mercy and who could even go to an extent of ensuring that refugees are buried when they die. Therefore, instead of saying that the alteration changes the context, it would be sufficient to indicate that the alteration enriches the context as opposed to altering it.


Cartoons are created to enhance humor that is integral part of human experience. However, humor can be extracted from cartoons in a limited cultural jurisdiction. For example, a cartoon in one geographical region sharing the same culture cannot provide humor in another region with a different culture. Therefore, humor from cartoons can be termed as culture specific even though the purpose as well as all other elements of the cartoon remains the same.

In this assignment, a political joke was chosen from the Mail Online to describe the current joke with refugees within the rich Arab world. Hassan has created a cartoon that shows the behaviors of the Gulf Nations’ leaders towards Syrian refugees. These leaders do not seem to care about the fate or refugees. Their lack of response is similar to trying to offer to dig grave and burry refugees. According to the cartoon, the Arabian countries must come out of their comfort zone and offer their piece of assistance to refugees. Otherwise, such a cartoon says that leaders in this zone seldom care about refugee crisis and the deaths occurring from dangerous sea travel to cross the sea to European countries.