Laura E. Little, Temple University School of Law, has published Legal Restriction and Protection of Humor, in the Encylopedia of Humor (Salvatore Attardo, ed., Sage, 2014). Here is the abstract.
Law and humor intersect in many ways. First, humor provides an essential vehicle for the social critique of the many foibles of lawyers, legislators, judges, and the legal process. In addition, lawyers, judges, and law makers sometimes try to be funny as they dispatch their duties. And then there’s a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon: the lawyer joke, which exposes important insights into how society views lawyers and the legal process.Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Yet the substance of the law also interacts with humor as well. This entry in the first ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HUMOR surveys these interactions between legal regulation and humor. The entry first describes how laws such as the First Amendment and intellectual property laws protect humor. The second half of the entry analyzes instances where the law restricts humor, with emphasis on defamation law, contract law, trademark violations, and employment discrimination laws. This latter part concludes that the law tends to avoid regulating humor that contains a significant degree of incongruity.