Multimodal Resources in the Co-Construction of Humorous Discourse

Gironzetti, E. 2021. “Multimodal Resources in the Co-Construction of Humorous Discourse.” In Czerwionka, L., Showstack, R., and Liskin-Gasparro, J. (Eds.), Contexts of Co-Constructed Discourse: Interaction, Pragmatics, and Second Language Applications (pp. 115-135). New York – London: Routledge.


Interactional humor is a negotiated activity in which conversational partners co-construct humor during the interaction and, by doing so, display features of a shared joking style. This chapter looks at spontaneous conversational humor (jablines and ironic comments) as a type of contingent, emergent, and co-constructed discourse to which conversational partners can contribute equally, regardless of their conversational role. The chapter reports on an interactional discourse analysis study of a corpus of monolingual, naturalistic, face-to-face conversational data that examined the strategic use of smiling and gaze as multimodal resources to co-construct conversational humor. The analysis integrated qualitative and quantitative data to illustrate the characteristics of the multimodal resources mobilized by conversational partners in the interaction, who were shown to a) rely on individual smiling behavior to frame utterances as humorous, b) jointly coordinate their smiling behavior to signal that both were participating in creating and maintaining the humorous frame, and c) mobilize gaze to support the negotiation of humorous meaning.