Serious look at humour

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 May, 1996, 12:00am

DID you hear the one about the Irish professor who set up a course in jokes and expected to be taken seriously? Professor Des MacHale is so concerned about the spread of political correctness and American culture in Ireland that he has set up a summer school to study the Irish joke.

Professor MacHale's course at Cork University will also study other Irish culture, including limericks, the malapropism and the works of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw.

He believes the Irish joke goes back to 1650, when immigrants were mocked in England because of the way they looked and spoke.

In the 1990s, political correctness took hold, perhaps reaching its high point last year, when a college lecturer received GBP30,000 (HK$351,300) from an industrial tribunal after being called an 'Irish prat'.

Professor MacHale said being given so much money for having a joke made about you was 'a great joke in itself'.

He has published 40 books about humour, including one of English jokes.