It is hard to imagine a text more serious than Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971). It is what its title says, a set of guidelines for those aspiring to become organizers of societal change – revolutionaries of some kind, the ‘realistic’ kind. The guidelines are ‘pragmatic’ in its everyday sense, hence entirely down-to-earth. Yet, humor comes in. This paper explores one of Alinsky’s educational stories which clearly lacks overall humorous intent but still has the potential of scoring humorous effects. An analysis of the example is used to address the relationship between humor and seriousness. At the same time it illustrates how systematic attention to the calibration of explicit and implicit levels of meaning generation can be used in the investigation of humor. Some additional remarks are made about how the example relates to some of the common notions in theories of humor.

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