Claire Ashmead is a Princeton senior who hails from Cleveland, Ohio and will be graduating with a degree in Intellectual History and certificates in East Asian Studies, Humanistic Studies, and Creative Writing.
Should diplomats joke? Humor is an essential component of socialization, lending insight, expressing dissent, and releasing the repressed. In all these ways, humor contributes to healthy, enjoyable conversations that strengthen human interaction and diplomatic engagement. At its best, humor is edgy and enlightening. At its worst, however, is can be rude, vulgar, and demeaning. Diplomats in particular must navigate the fine line between entertainment and offense. The larger and more multi-cultural the setting, the less obvious it is that jokes can be helpful to the process of peace-making. Through a series of case studies of humor, supplemented by glosses on how jokes work both neurologically and philosophically, I will endeavor to lay out a few ground rules for how jokes should be made in sensitive, multi-cultural situations. My hope is that diplomats might use this basic layout to engage in discourse that is at once freer, franker, and funnier. The key to successful diplomacy may be one good joke: Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.