The analysis of memes posted on Moroccan Facebook pages during the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic shows that the use of humour by Moroccans is not only motivated by achieving mirth but it also vehicles critical views about issues of common concern debated in the digital public sphere. Some of these memes were used to cope with fear and uncertainty. However, most memes harboured mixed feelings about the situation and were used for social control and the expression of conflict and resistance, addressing issues of behaviour, governance and communication. This article uses a social semiotic approach to analyse the collected memes (460 from personal and communal pages) as a multimodal discourse in terms of context, culture, and media affordances. This article contends that the study of these memes can be a key to understanding how Moroccans used humour to cope with danger and radical uncertainty, build identification and strengthen social cohesion. It also highlights the polyvocality of humour in times of the pandemic and the gradual shift from inclusive, conformist and sympathetic humour to disparaging, exclusive and challenging humour as the pandemic lingered, consensus began to crack, social control was challenged and injunctive norms were replaced by survival values. The results show how these memes are indicative of the way humour changes mechanisms and functions in terms of contingent motivations.
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