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What Can We Laugh About?

What Can We Laugh About? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Illustration by Nick Yang.

A Zócalo/ASU Gammage Event
Moderated by Gustavo Arellano, Columnist, Los Angeles Times

Zócalo Public Square values audience safety. During events at ASU California Center, only clear bags (maximum size 12” x 6” x 12”) and small clutches (maximum size 8 ½” x 5 ½”) are permitted in the venue. All bags are subject to search. Questions? Ask us at events@zocalopublicsquare.org.

It sometimes feels like we will never laugh again, and that levity’s moment has passed. But comedians have always grappled with difficult topics in difficult times, helping the rest of us better understand ourselves—and let off a little steam in the process. Comedians dare to go where others can’t. Satire, stand-up, and skits can take on the topics that most divide us: race, nationality, gender, religion, class. What is the relationship between dissent and comedy? Is there civic virtue in laughter? Are there any issues that it is “too soon” to joke about? Should comedians around the world draw inspiration from American humor? And can comedy break through apathy, discontent, and division in a democracy under pressure—serving as release valve, remedy, and respite?

Political satirist Bassem Youssef, and playwright, actor, and performance artist Kristina Wong visit Zócalo to discuss the current comedic zeitgeist, and why the joke can be mightier than the sword.

Zócalo invites our in-person audience to continue the conversation with our speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary drinks.

This event is a part of Experience ASU, a month-long series marking Arizona State University’s expansion in California.

ASU California Center
1111 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015

The Takeaway

‘Humor Is What Makes Us Human’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

‘Humor Is What Makes Us Human’

In an Age of Political Tyranny and Deep Division, Comedy Can Help Us Understand Our Leaders, Ourselves, and Each Other

Fittingly, the Zócalo/ASU Gammage event “What Can We Laugh About?” last night opened with a joke from Los Angeles Times columnist Gustavo Arellano, who was moderating: “Knock knock.” The prompt …