Past Event

Café Society: The Politics of Funny--How Do We Know When It's Okay to Laugh?

African-American comedian David Chappelle liberally uses the N-word in his skits. If David Chappelle were white, could he do this without being offensive? Would his jokes be as funny? Why can Asian-American comic Margaret Cho imitate her mother onstage and it not be considered a racist stereotype? Or is it? Is Adam Sandler’s Chanukah song hysterically funny or horribly anti-Semitic?

There may be things that we find funny if the “right” person is telling the joke. Why is this? Does it matter who is laughing? Are there different implications if it is a room full of women or men in stitches over how crazy women are when they have PMS? There seems to be a fine line between laughing with someone and laughing at someone. Is this a contradiction?

Laughter can be the greatest remedy to life’s hardships. Yet there are unspoken times when there is a moratorium on funny. Immediately after 9/11 no one poked fun at the President and those who tried to joke about the tragedy were heavily criticized. How do we know when it is okay to laugh?

Join us this week at Café Society to share your thoughts about the politics of funny.

Suggested Readings:

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.