We live in an increasingly unfunny world, which might be why comedy is booming in our culture like never before. Today, every ad tries to be funny, every politician tries to be funny. Many of us get our news from comedy shows , if we haven't already been filled in by the day's viral tweets and Facebook memes. Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings has a new book out about our comedy-first culture, called Planet Funny, which is on sale now, so we've asked him to spend June debunking some popular misconceptions about humor and comedy. He'll be here all month! Tip your waitress.
The Debunker: Is Laughter For When We Hear Something Funny?
"Present mirth hath present laughter; what's to come is still unsure," wrote William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. That's a guy who wrote over a dozen comedies that are stone-cold classics, even if they haven't really been that funny to audiences for at least two hundred years. Surely he knows what he's talking about! Mirth, or amusement, causes laughter, everybody knows that. More simply put, we laugh at jokes.