The Goldfish and Little Red Riding Hood: Characters and their Combinations in Fairy Tale Jokes and Parodies

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Abstract

There are two types of joke that can be described as fairy tale jokes: those with punchlines that include fairy tale characters, and fairy tale parodies. The paper discusses fairy tale jokes that were sent to the jokes page of the major Estonian internet Web Portal Delfi by Internet users between 2000 and 2011, and jokes added by the editors of the portal between 2011 and 2018 (CFTJ). The joke corpus has had different addresses at different times, and was a live ‘folklore field’ for the first few years after creation.

Of all the characters, the Goldfish appeared in the largest number of jokes (76 out of a total of 286 jokes), followed by Little Red Riding Hood (72). Other fairy tale characters feature in a 14 or fewer fairy tale jokes each.

Several fairy tale jokes circulating on the Internet varied over the period observed. Fairy tale jokes generally get their impetus from the characters and from plots with unexpected outcomes. A seemingly innocent fairy tale character is often linked to a sexual theme: sexuality holds first place as the source of humour in fairy tale jokes, although this may be caused by the so-called genre code of jokes.

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