I just posted another Irish joke. This joke, Donal Calaghan’s Experience, plays into Irish stereotypes less than others, but I wanted to say something about those stereotypes. While a lot of humor plays on stereotypes, we have become more sensitive regarding humor based on cultural stereotypes. Generally, such stereotypes are avoided. While many may bemoan political correctness, I ‘feel that political correctness is really just a matter of all of us trying to be more sensitive.
To me Irish jokes present a special challenge. There was a time when help wanted signs in the U. S. added the note, ‘Irish need not apply.’ The jokes stereotype the Irish as being heavy drinkers. And we know – or should know – that not all Irish are heavy drinkers, let alone falling down drunks.
Then, again, if you listen to the traditional music, you will realize that, to some degree, the tradition glories in the stereotypes. Songs like “Whiskey, Whiskey,” “Whiskey in the Jar,” “Seven Drunken Nights,” “Finnegan’s Wake” and others all seem to relish the reputation, or at least acknowledge it. That said, there are a lot of rough, sad songs that reflect a difficult history. For example, there are a fair number of hanging songs, and I doubt if anyone reading this l knows of one Irish person who has been to the gallows.
All of this said, many of the Irish I know relish a good Irish joke, stereotype and all. So, here they are, with a tip of the hat to the many fine Irish people I know.
ADDED NOTE, January 26, 2014: This article was just posted, if you are interested in more about the issue of Irish stereotypes. It goes into more detail as well as the history of these stereotypes. http://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/cahirodoherty/Does-it-matter-if-the-Irish-are-portrayed-as-bullies-and-drunks.html