The paper is an attempt to clarify the social background of the joke as well as its cultural role. After pointing out some of the main features of the phenomenon of humour the author proceed to define the joke as a cultural form and then compare it to the myth in terms of Roland Barthes' semiotic theory. The consequent view of the joke as a semantic inversion of the myth is supported by the further analysis of several selected series of jokes being told in Poland.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.