‘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 audience reply came in unison: “Who’s there?”

Arellano: “Zócal-OK, we can now laugh.”

There was playful booing from the in-person audience—a packed house at the ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles—but, though the joke bombed, it set off a wide-ranging, alternately funny and serious conversation around our comedic zeitgeist. The discussion brought Arellano (no stranger to humor, including in his long-running “¡Ask …