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Notebook with notes featuring inside jokes.

An in-joke (also known as an in joke or inside joke) is a joke whose humor is clear only to those people who are "inside" a social group, occupation or other community of common understanding; an esoteric joke. It is only humorous to those who know the situation behind it. Inside jokes may exist within a small social clique, such as a group of friends. They also may extend to an entire profession (e.g., inside jokes in the film industry).

An inside joke works to build community, sometimes but not always at the expense of outsiders. Part of the power of an inside joke is that its audience knows that there are those who do not understand the joke.[1] Inside jokes are cryptic allusions to shared common ground that act as triggers. Only those who have shared the common ground provide an appropriate response.[2] An inside joke can be a subtext, where someone will suddenly start laughing at something that is unspoken (often later apologizing for doing so, stating that what they were laughing at was an inside joke).[3]

Inside jokes are sometimes covertly included in creative works, such as art, literature, television shows, or video games. In such situations, the presence of the in-joke might not be obvious to the casual audience, but would be instantly recognizable to the creator's friends', co-workers, or other group. In-jokes of this sort are sometimes called Easter eggs, because they represent "hidden" jokes that can be discovered by savvy audience members.



Computer industry

In the computer industry some computer programmers hide "in jokes" within the code of software in the form of "easter eggs", which are hidden content that can be revealed by following a sequence of inputs.

The Jargon File is a dictionary of programmers' slang, many of which are inside jokes or based on inside jokes.

Pop culture

Many TV shows, like the Simpsons and Family Guy, insert numerous in-jokes per episode, often referring to other TV shows or movies. For example, the 2009 movie Star Trek was full of references to the 1960s TV series Star Trek, and the references constituted in-jokes for those familiar with the series.

See also


  1. ^ Paul Brooks Duff (2001). Who Rides the Beast?: Prophetic Rivalry and the Rhetoric of Crisis in the Churches of the Apocalypse. Oxford University Press. pp. 81. ISBN 019513835X.  
  2. ^ Randy Y. Hirokawa and Marshall Scott Poole (1996). Communication and Group Decision Making. Sage Publications Inc. pp. 96. ISBN 076190462X.  
  3. ^ Ben Tousey (2003). Acting Your Dreams: Use Acting Techniques to Interpret Your Dreams. Ben Tousey. pp. 118–119. ISBN 1414005423.  

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