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The Stars and Stripes

Humor

Humor was one of the hallmarks of The Stars and Stripes, and the editors took measures to insure that it was a regular ingredient in feature stories and often in news accounts. The October 4, 1918, issue reported on the confrontation between an American private and a German soldier over a rooster as amusement for readers in a column entitled "Echoes from the Argonne Fight":

"An American private spied a rooster prowling around a farm house in No Man's Land just after the Americans had captured Very. Being angry, and having an appetite for roast chicken, this American private decided to crawl up on the rooster and trap him in the building.

'I'he American was about to lay his hands on the astonished rooster when a German entered the rear door of the building bent on the same mission. Both were so surprised that they stood for a moment and glared at each other, then the American motioned for the German to do a right flank on the prey they were after and both closed in on him. The rooster was captured by the American, who later returned to the American lines with both rooster and German in tow.

Later, at the regimental P.C. the German roasted the chicken for his captor, who shared it with him."

From "Echoes from the Argonne Fight," The Stars and Stripes, October 4, 1918, page 8, column 2

The article "Etiquette Talks for Doughboys: Brig Manners" presented humorous advice to young Doughboys on the consequences of improper etiquette. Look for other examples of humorous writing in The Stars and Stripes. Consider the following questions:

  • What made the pieces funny? What techniques of humor did they use? Some examples of techniques of humor include exaggeration, juxtaposition of incongruous elements, surprise, absurdity, satire, parody, irony, word play, and attributing human characteristics to non-humans.
  • Are these humorous articles still funny? Why or why not? What aspects of humor seem to hold up best over time?
  • Why do you think the editors included humor as an essential part of The Stars and Stripes? How would humorous stories tend to boost morale?

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