How Bullwinkle Helped Us Laugh Off Nuclear Annihilation

The Dim-Witted Moose and His Squirrelly Sidekick Calmed Our Cold War Fears with Subversive Humor

“Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,” says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors’ gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret “Goof Gas” gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the last episode of Bullwinkle.

Another senator wants to raise taxes on everyone under the age of 67. He, of course, is 68. Yet a …

More In: humor

To Defy a Dictator, Send in the Clowns

Protest Movements Can Wield Humor as a Weapon Against Oppressive Regimes

When Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to protest the regime of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, they brought with them a funny weapon against the guns and tear gas of the …

You Can Be Funny Without Being Racist, Sexist, or a Bully

And Being "PC" Might Even Make Comedians More Creative

When New York Times Magazine contributing writer Carina Chocano was initially approached to moderate a Zócalo/UCLA event on political correctness and humor, she was intimidated by what she thought was …

How the Marginalized Invented Politically Incorrect Comedy

The Incisive Wit of Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor Paved the Way for a Generation of Crasser Comics

“Sometimes you feel guilty laughing at some of Lenny’s mordant jabs,” journalist Herb Caen once said of the taboo-shattering comic Lenny Bruce. “But that disappears a second later when your …

In Europe, Good Wisecracks Make Good Neighbors

How the Seemingly Xenophobic Jokes Europeans Tell About Each Other Bring Them Together

To understand Europe’s humor is to understand its history; satire and politics have long gone hand in hand. Whether in drawings, ballads, or prose, humor has long provided a counterbalance …

Why It’s OK to Laugh About ISIS

Don’t Blame Muslims for Joking About Terrorists

I used to tell jokes about my lady moustache.

I thought it was important to let everyone know about my struggle to rip follicles from the root of my face, …