Is a Rameumptom Just a Rameumptom? A Freudian Approach to The Sugar Beet Latter-day Saints are conventionally and stereotypically portrayed as inhabiting a G-rated culture that valorizes domesticity, obedience, and chastity. For this reason, and the fact that many Mormons enthusiastically embrace the stereotypes, the humor of The Sugar Beet is particularly interesting. In its treatment of issues concerning sexuality, gender, and authority, The Sugar Beet has opened or at least laid bare, another level of Mormon culture that is much more complex than that assumed in the stereotypes. But what makes Mormon humor, humorous? To explore this question, I turn to the work of Sigmund Freud who argues that jokes have two primary functions: aggression and exposure. In analyzing several jokes from The Sugar Beet, I will probe whether Freud’s framework helps us to understand the underlying dynamics of Mormon humor. The presentation will be interactive, with audience members being invited at times to reflect upon what is (and is not) humorous about a particular joke.
Mathew N. Schmalz, Christopher Bigelow