Where once society’s most coveted trait might have been strength or intelligence or honor, today, in a clear sign of evolution sliding off the trails, it is being funny. Yes, funniness.
Consider: Super Bowl commercials don’t try to sell you anymore; they try to make you laugh. Airline safety tutorials - those terrifying laminated cards about the possibilities of fire, explosion, depressurization, and drowning - have been replaced by joke-filled videos with multimillion-dollar budgets and dance routines. Thanks to social media, we now have a whole Twitterverse of amateur comedians riffing around the world at all hours of the day - and many of them even get popular enough online to go pro and take over TV.
In his “smartly structured, soundly argued, and yes - pretty darn funny” (Booklist, starred review) Planet Funny, Ken Jennings explores this brave new comedic world and what it means - or doesn’t - to be funny in it now. Tracing the evolution of humor from the caveman days to the bawdy middle-class antics of Chaucer to Monty Python’s game-changing silliness to the fast-paced meta-humor of The Simpsons, Jennings explains how we built our humor-saturated modern age, where lots of us get our news from comedy shows and a comic figure can even be elected President of the United States purely on showmanship.