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The Funniest Pages

International Perspectives on Humor in Journalism

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Edited By David Swick and Richard Lance Keeble

Charles Dickens, celebrated novelist and journalist, believed that his greatest ability as a writer was to make people laugh. Yet, to date, humor has been strangely marginalized in journalism, communication and media studies.
This innovative book draws together the work of seventeen writers to show that, starting in the 1640s during the English Civil War, and continuing through to the present time, humor has indeed been an important ingredient of journalism. Countries studied include Australia, Britain, Canada, Chile and the United States. The Funniest Pages is divided into four sections: «Seriously Funny, From Past to Present,» «Unsolemn Columnists,» «This Sporting Life» and a final section, «Have Mouse, Will Laugh,» which looks at humor in online journalism. Chapters examine Joseph Addison, Richard Steele and the birth of social and political satire; Allen Ginsberg, Mad magazine, and the culture wars of the 1950s; John Clarke and the power of satire in journalism, and more.
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Chapter Thirteen: Bowling Them Over and Over with Wit: Forms and Functions of Humor in Live Text Cricket Coverage

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← 186 | 187 →CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Forms and Functions of Humor in Live Text Cricket Coverage

DERMOT HEANEY

There are no shortages of reasons as to why sport is superior to real life, most obviously its not being real life. And because of that, the rules are different—not only are things rarely as bad as they seem, but they are hardly ever all that bad. There is almost always scope to experience cheer, circumstances almost always improvable and generally resolvable, often very quickly indeed. (Daniel Harris, live over-by-over commentary, theguardian.com, Sunday 27 July 2014.)

This chapter attempts to describe and account for the main kinds of humor found in written online coverage of all five days of the third cricket Test Match between England and India in July 2014. The source is the online version of the Guardian’s sports pages (Ashdown, Burnton, Harris and Ehantharajah 2014). This kind of written, live text sports coverage is known as ‘over-by-over commentary’ (OBOC) and is structured by the standard division of play in cricket, comprising six deliveries of a ball to a batsman, after which there is a change of bowler until the next over is completed. In the course of a day’s play, there can be approximately a hundred overs, and in this case the five-day commentary adds up to a text in excess of 35,000 words. Although what follows is not a quantitative analysis, a sufficient amount of text is considered to provide...

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