Few sick jokes follow Diana

October 07, 1997|By Dallas Morning News

Hey, heard the one about Princess Diana?

Odds are, you haven't.

In America, the land of Chernobyl jokes ("What has feathers and glows in the dark? Chicken Kiev"), Challenger jokes, Jeffrey Dahmer jokes, O.J. Simpson jokes and Waco jokes, it turns out that something is sacred after all.

Over the past decade, thanks to faxes, phones and computers, almost any disaster is followed by a spate of sick jokes practically before the dust clears.

But not this time. People don't want to hear them, say researchers who study humor.

"This is similar to the joke blackout that occurred with the Oklahoma City bombing," says psychiatrist William Fry, who has studied humor since the 1950s.

Psychologist Ed Dunkelblau of Chicago, president of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor, says he saw that taboo at work recently in an America Online chat room for bad jokes.

When he introduced himself as a researcher and simply asked if anyone had heard about any Princess Diana jokes, "they got furious," he says. "They threatened to report me [to AOL monitors]."

Pub Date: 10/07/97

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