Date of Award

Spring 4-19-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science and International Affairs

Department Chair or Program Director

Cooperman, Rosalyn

First Advisor

Farnsworth, Stephen

Second Advisor

Lester, Emile

Major or Concentration

Political Science


Political humor has played a role in politics since ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. From plays to newspaper comics to late night comedy, these bits of political criticism and commentary on current events have been there to provide the public with relief, reinforcement of views, and in some cases information. Since the late 2000s, social media started to take on a similar role of providing reactions to political commentary, but rather than a television network and professionally crafted scripts, it is any person who possesses an account and may write up to 280 characters. Previous research has looked at political literacy and Twitter, but there are inconsistencies in findings as Twitter is a fast-paced media with the potential to be ever changing in influence. This project aims to reveal whether humorous political communication on Twitter follows similar patterns and content as late-night comedy and clarify Twitter’s role in political literacy. It does so through comparing past literature on late night comedy and Twitter, conducting a content analysis of late-night comedy and tweets during the 2020 U.S. election, and analyzing political literacy data from 2020 to see whether there are any trends from the past literature to now. There are many similarities between the two forms of political humor with their main differences coming from the openness of participation and lack of market drive on Twitter. From this, it is evident that Twitter humor is an extension of late-night humor as late night television was of newspaper comic humor. Twitter humor is more extreme and prone to false information, which leads it to be potentially more negative impacts on political knowledge and cynicism than late night comedy.