“Which One of You Is the Twelve-Year-Old Boy?”: Children’s Humour, Wittgensteinian Jokes, and the Sack Lunch Bunch

  • Michael G. Dalebout
Keywords: children, humor, growing up, mulaney, intergenerational cultural transmission, John Mulaney

Abstract

This article reads the comedic after-school special John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch (Netflix 2019) alongside philosophical accounts of humour, comedy, and laughter—collectively, Humour—and elaborates upon how Sack Lunchrepurposes the conceptual binary of adult and child, neither reinforcing nor denying its formative role in the relationship between people of diverse ages. Interpreted as what Ludwig Wittgenstein called a grammatical investigation (or a study of how language is used), Sack Lunch inhabits the ambiguous and artificial boundary between child and adult to trouble an overly familiar picture of growing up. In showing how children’s and adults’ Humour is alike in showing what is funny, or off, in our world, Sack Lunch is a non-instrumental example of Humour as a pedagogical resource. Because it exposes the sedimented conceptions underlying how intergenerational social relationships perpetuate socio-political injustices, children’s Humour in particular warrants further attention by philosophers of humour.

Author Biography

Michael G. Dalebout

Michael G. Dalebout, Ph.D., is a Lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Their/his current book project, Standing Up, analyzes stand-up comedians’ digitally mediated acts of self-presentation, articulating how democratic subjects more generally—but especially those with marginalized identities—stand up and transform the normative conceptual horizon that shapes everyone’s life in a shared world.

Published
2021-08-18
How to Cite
Dalebout, M. G. (2021). “Which One of You Is the Twelve-Year-Old Boy?”: Children’s Humour, Wittgensteinian Jokes, and the Sack Lunch Bunch . Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 13(1), 237-258. Retrieved from https://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php/yptc/article/view/628
Section
Articles for Special Issue on Laughter