A Literature Review on Identity, Humor, and Offense: Exploring and Understanding Cards Against Humanity

ABSTRACT: I plan to explore how various aspects of one’s identity–e.g. age, gender, sexuality, race, etc–inform and influence one’s sense of humor as well as one’s sensibility. More specifically, I will conduct a literature review wherein I compile the most relevant scholarly work across several fields on the subject–including humor studies, psychology, and sociology. Finally, I will use the popular party game Cards Against Humanity (CAH) as a connecting focal point for my research. Cards Against Humanity, i.e. “a party game for horrible people”, asks players to choose the funniest punchline from a set of cards to complete a given setup or prompt–the result is oftentimes a dirty, dark, or satirical joke. As players confront controversial cards, they are forced to decide what is funny and what is simply offensive. Subsequently, each player must define their sense of humor, their sensibility, and their identity amidst a social group. At the same time, players must be mindful of the particular humors, sensibilities, and identities of others in the group. For that reason, CAH is an excellent medium through which to research the interplay of these three factors. This piece of research is an essential first step in moving towards an understanding of the fascinating social phenomenon that is Cards Against Humanity.