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What’s So Funny About Comedy?

Evening Lecture

Friday, May 8, 2015 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1L0078

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Fifty-seven years in this business, you learn a few things. You know what words are funny and which words are not funny. Alka-Seltzer is funny …. Tomato is not funny.... Cleveland is funny. Maryland is not funny. Then, there's chicken. Chicken is funny…. —From Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys 

As anyone who’s ever tried to define comedy knows, it’s hard to say what it is, much less where it comes from, and where it’s going. David Misch, author of Funny: The Book—Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Comedy, surveys the history of comedy, from ancient Greece to Modern Family, from court jesters and commedia dell’arte to Monty Python, and from Oscar Wilde to Woody Allen. There may even be discussion of a French fartist and how comedy killed Abraham Lincoln.

Using clips to punctuate his wry commentary, the blogger, teacher, and recovered stand-up comic provides insights into what provokes humans to make those high-pitched, yelping sounds known as laughter—and why we need to.

Misch’s TV and movie writing credits include Mork and Mindy, Saturday Night Live, and The Muppets Take Manhattan.


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)