In 2004, the United States launched an Arabic language satellite television station, Al-Hurra ('the free one'). As a mass media outlet designed to enhance American geopolitical influence, it is considered one manifestation of a 'soft power' strategy. Soft power, however, is only effective to the extent that it can rely on 'willing interpreters and receivers'. This article considers humor in Al-Hurra's workplace and among its intended audience as a gauge of the availability of such interpreters and receivers. Humor, this article contends, reflects greater political discourses and attitudes, and therefore outlines the limits to American soft power in Arab regions.