What do Australians find funny? Is there a distinctive style of Australian humour, or is there more than one? What are the ingredients? What social and cultural functions do they perform? Serious Frolic is the first collection of essays dedicated to examining a range of Australian humour. Leading scholars in Australian literature and culture explore humour, from the high to the low, from the classic to the cutting-edge: from Henry Lawson's 'The Loaded Dog' and CJ Dennis's The Sentimental Bloke, to Barry Humphries and Kath & Kim. There are essays on humour in Indigenous communities and among prisoners of war, on the ritual of 'taking the piss', and on the naming of racehorses. Ern Malley rubs shoulders with Pauline Pantsdown, the campus novel with colonial satire. When is something funny and when isn't it -- and who decides? In this engaging and spirited book, Frances de Groen, Peter Kirkpatrick and their contributors take a serious look at our national humour - in literature, in performance and in life.