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Table 1 Verbal description of the black humour cartoons (Stein 1997)

From: Cognitive and emotional demands of black humour processing: the role of intelligence, aggressiveness and mood

Cartoon Situation Text
1. Santa Claus, standing on a long, thin tail and having some drops of blood under and on both boots, has been giving Christmas presents to a penguin, a dog and a cat, standing in front of him. Having distributed a fish, a dog biscuit and a tuna tin to them, he still has a gift wrapped cheese left in his hands. Santa Claus: ‘And who put the cheese on his letter to me?’
2. Death, impersonated by a skeleton in a hooded coat holding an hourglass and a sickle stands at the doorstep of a man’s apartment. The man: ‘I am sorry, we do not die at the front door.’
3. Up on a veritable height a man stands at the outer windowsill of an apartment block. Having a noose laid around his neck and a fixed knife directed to his stomach he puts a gun against his head. Beside him on the sill lies an emptied bottle labelled as poison and an envelope. Inside the apartment are two police officers, one of them pointing at the man saying: ‘Hey – I know this guy from elementary school. I remember that we called him Eberhard, the efficient.’
4. A man scratching his chin apparently out of confusion is clutching the receiver of a public phone box. The voice coming from the receiver says: ‘Here is the answering machine of the self-help association for Alzheimer patients. If you still remember your topic, please speak after the tone.’
5. A general practitioner is explaining the result of a medical test to a couple with her being pregnant: ‘To begin with, here is the good news: Your child will always find a parking space.’
6. Four men are standing high up on a bungee jumping platform. One of them is holding a rope fixed on the one end to the platform. The other end of the rope is tied around a leg prosthesis that is turned upside down. One of them is telling the others: ‘I didn’t examining his certificate of disability in all detail.’
7. A group of surgeons in an operating theatre is in the middle of what looks like a heart surgery. Without a sign of warning the heart springs out of the patient’s body right into one of the surgeons’ faces. Another surgeon remarks: ‘That’s the most amazing case of tissue rejection I’ve ever seen!’
8. In a morgue a physician is lifting a white cover sheet off a body with a woman standing beside him. The woman confirms: ‘Sure, that’s my husband – anyway, which washing powder did you use to get that so white?’
9. Two women, apparently real chatterboxes, are having a chat over coffee. The first one: ‘He is crippled, she is crippled and what’s more they are going to have a baby.’
The other one: ‘I do hope things straighten themselves out.’
10. In an operating theatre a surgeon has one arm deep in an opened body. Another surgeon explains the situation to a man in a suit: ‘The autopsy is finished; he is only looking for his wrist watch.’
11. A dentist is on a root canal job with the patient being completely tensed up due to pain. At the back of the patient’s chair the tip of a rotating dental drill, apparently having worked its way through the patient’s mouth and neck comes into sight. The dentist asks his patient: ‘Does it hurt?’
12. After having committed suicide the body of a man hangs from a light fixture in a living room, hung by his tie. His wife enters the room with a friend and looking at him she complains: ‘And once again the green tie with the blue suit. Come on, what have I been nagging him about for all these years?’