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Humor, Comedy, and Wit

Google Ngram ViewerAs classes begin Monday at TU, the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will kick off our year-long focus on the topic of humor.  But what exactly is humor?  As this chart showing the word’s frequency suggests, it’s a relatively new idea.  The word itself was barely used until the middle of the nineteenth century and only since 1980 has it become more common than “comedy” and “wit.”  It’s always been difficult to agree on whether or not something is humorous, but it may be just as difficult to describe what the concept actually means.  That’s the work of the humanities and we’re gathering faculty, students, performers, artists, writers, and visiting experts to help us explore this complex idea.

Throughout the year, we invite you to join us for wide-ranging series of lectures, performances, exhibitions, and other events designed to help illuminate the idea of humor.  You’ll find regular updates on Facebook, Twitter, and our webpage. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Have you been to see the show on the cartoons of Charles Addams at the Zarrow Center yet?  In September, we’ll host a lecture by the curator, Kevin Miserocchi, who will tell us about the art and life of this iconic comic artist.
  • What’s the connection between humor and cruelty on the internet (that strange thing we call “lulz”)?  Join us in October for a talk by Whitney Phillips, author of a new book on digital trolls–and why we find them so amusing.
  • In an exciting partnership with Tulsa Symphony and Philbrook Museum, we’ll mark with the start of the Thanksgiving holiday season with a series of talks and performances by composer Bruce Adolphe, the witty genius behind NPR’s “piano puzzlers.”
  • This spring, we’ll host a series of events on American political cartoons at the center of which will be a two-month exhibit at the Zarrow Center in downtown Tulsa.  This show will be highlighted by a special symposium featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mike Luckovich as well as the Tulsa World‘s own Bruce Plante.

We have more plans in the works as well, including a vaudeville show, a poetry reading, and a special celebration of The Big Lebowski.  We hope you’ll join us for what promises to be an exciting, informative, and entertaining year at the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities.