What is already known:
What this study adds:
Research demonstrates that late-night comedians have an effect on shaping viewers' political opinions, with large audiences that rival those of many traditional news sources. One heavily politicized issue that appears in the nightly monologues is global warming and climate change (GW/CC). Considering that late-night comedy writers use news as material to craft monologue jokes, examining jokes about GW/CC can shed light on media perspectives and how these have shifted over time. Using a corpus of jokes drawn from The Bulletin’s Frontrunner for the years 1996-2021, we use interpretive social science methods of analysis to examine how GW/CC jokes have appeared in the monologues.
Analysis of these jokes found GW/CC was not talked about often early in the corpus, but saw a spike in usage along with the term “gore”, in reference to Al Gore, in 2006. The term global warming was phased out in favor of the term climate change, with usage of the latter term becoming more common in 2015. Jokes reflected various viewpoints of claims made by scientists and politicians about GW/CC. Jokes were coded by the researcher to assess if they were supportive, neutral or skeptical of GW/CC science. Jokes were a mix of skeptical and supportive up until 2012, at which point there were no more skeptical jokes about GW/CC and the volume of jokes that supported the idea that GW/CC is happening increased.