Why Are You Laughing?

February 27, 2006
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Why is the slapstick comedy of the Three Stooges funny? Why do we laugh when the Black Knight gets his arm hacked off in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Paul Lewis, author of the forthcoming book, Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, recently discussed the appeal of violence in comedy on NPR’s Studio 360.
In a Studio 360 segment called "Why Are You Laughing?," Lewis compared violent comedy to a roller coaster: "As you make your way up there’s a sense of apprehension. Will this be dangerous? Will it be thrilling? As you’re on your way down you’re either screaming or you’re laughing or some combination, which is familiar to people who enjoy sadistic or cruel humor."
Listen an audio file of "Why Are You Laughing?" on NPR’s Studio 360 Web site.
Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict will be published by the University of Chicago Press later this year.

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