3 Nichols, “All Is Well.”
4 For larger statements on our age of political satire, see Amber Day, Satire and Dissent: Interventions in Contemporary Debate (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011); and Cynthia Willett, Irony in the Age of Empire: Comic Perspectives on Democracy and Freedom (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008). See also Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai, eds., “Comedy Has Issues,” Critical Inquiry 43, no. 2 (2017); Sophia A. McClennen, Colbert’s America: Satire and Democracy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); Arpad Szakolczai, Comedy and the Public Sphere: The Re-birth of Theatre as Comedy and the Genealogy of the Modern Public Arena (London: Routledge, 2013); and Jeffrey Gottfried and Monica Anderson, “For Some, the Satiric Colbert Report Is a Trusted Source of Political News,” Pew Research Center, December 2014, http://www.pewresearch.org/.
5 Hannah Gadsby “Three Ideas. Three Contradictions. Or Not,” TED Talk 14.32, April 2019, https://www.ted.com/. See also Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, “Hannah Gadsby on Autism and the Risk of Failing after Nanette: She’s Back Exploring the Nature of Comedy,” New York Times, April 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/.
6 For a historically nuanced account, see Sheila Lintott, “Superiority in Humor Theory,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74, no. 4 (2016).
7 Christopher Hitchens, “Why Women Aren’t Funny,” Vanity Fair, January 2007, https://www.vanityfair.com/. See Linda Mizejewski, Pretty/Funny: Women Comedians and Body Politics (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014), 1–29, for a discussion of how Hitchens’s essay exemplifies the “pretty versus funny” cultural bias of women’s history in comedy and for the rise of comics such as Tina Fey.
8 On intersectionality, see Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (1991): 1241–99; Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); and Collins and Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality (Cambridge: Polity, 2016). Work in the field of comic studies sensitive to aspects of intersectional approaches include Viveca Greene and Ted Gournelos, eds., A Decade of Dark Humor: How Comedy, Irony, and Satire Shaped Post-9/11 America (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2011); Yael Kohen, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy (London: Picador, 2013); Rebecca Krefting, All Joking Aside: American Humor and Its Discontents (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014); Mizejewski, Pretty/Funny; Matthew R. Meier and Casey R. Schmitt, Standing Up, Speaking Out: Stand-up Comedy and the Rhetoric of Social Change (New York: Routledge, 2016).
9 Collins and Bilge, Intersectionality, 2.
10 Collins and Bilge, Intersectionality, 27.
11 Tina Fey, “String of Pride,”30 Rock, October 18, 2012.
12 Hitchens, “Why Women Aren’t Funny.”
14 Lintott, “Superiority”; Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor”; Daniel Wickberg, The Senses of Humor: Self and Laughter in Modern America (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998).
15 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.”
16 Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Hélène Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).
17 Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004); Andy Clark and David Chalmers, “The Extended Mind,” Analysis 58, no. 1 (1998): 7–19; Carol Gilligan, “In a Different Voice: Women’s Conceptions of Self and of Morality,” in The Gender and Psychology Reader, ed. Blythe Clinchy and Julie K. Norem (New York: New York University Press, 1998); Eva Feder Kittay, Love’s Labor (New York: Routledge, 1999); Daniel J. Siegel, Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human (New York: Norton, 2016); and Cynthia Willett and Ellie Anderson, “Feminist Perspectives on the Self,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2016, https://plato.stanford.edu/.
18 For the model of this affect-laden, layered self, see Cynthia Willett, “Reflections: A Model and a Vision of Ethical Life,” in Interspecies Ethics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 131–46. On the gut brain, see Michael D. Gershon, The Second Brain (New York: Harper Perennial, 1999). For a nice summary of the functions of the brain and empathy, see Efrat Ginot, “The Empathic Power of Enactments,” Psychoanalytic Psychology 26, no. 3 (2009): 290–309. On affect generally, see Margaret Wetherall, Affect and Emotion: A New Social Science Understanding (London: Sage, 2012), 4. Following Wetherall and many others, but in contrast to some scholars working through Deleuze and/or Spinoza, we do not reduce affect to sheer intensity, although this is definitely one dimension of affects and emotions generally. Such a rhetorical extreme blurs the distinction between animate creatures and inanimate things. For evidence that emotions are constructed via concepts in a process involving the whole brain and that no affect is necessary or sufficient for any emotion, see Lisa Feldman Barrett, How Emotions Are Made (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). The research consistently challenges the reason-versus-emotion paradigm dominant in much of Western culture.
19 Scott Weems, Ha! The Science of When We Laugh and Why (New York: Basic Books, 2014).
20 Wickberg, Senses of Humor.
21 Krefting, All Joking Aside, 1. Along with comic and American studies scholar Krefting, our shared “jumping off point . . . [is with the] Kondabolu[s] and other comic performers who intentionally produce humor challenging social inequality and cultural exclusion” (2). Krefting defines this mode of humor as charged humor, which aims to assert cultural citizenship and build community. More generally, our theory-based approach complements her economic analysis of charged humor while broadening the focus to include not just the aim of building cultural citizenships but also the ridiculing of stereotypes and mocking of authority. We also examine community and solidarity across lines of class, race, and other social divisions. On cultural citizenship, see William Flores and Rena Benmajor, Latino Cultural Citizenship: Claiming Identity, Space and Rights (Boston: Beacon, 1998).
22 Plato, Philebus, trans. Dorothea Frede (Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett, 1993), 48–50.
23 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett, 1982), 32.
24 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor”; C. John Sommerville, “Puritan Humor, or Entertainment, for Children,” Albion 21, no. 2 (1989): 227–47.
25 For the debate on the cartoons, see Albena Azmanova, “Are We Charlie?,” Berkeley Blog, January 16, 2015, http://blogs.berkeley.edu/; and Justin Smith, “Why Satire Matters,” in Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 2015, https://www.chronicle.com/. While Smith’s essay was written as a defense of the French satiric rag, his conception of humor maps onto conceptions of humor as transcendence. Azmanova explains the function of free speech in terms of its role in protecting against oppression. For freedom in relation to the comedic, see Willett, Irony, chap. 5.
27 Cynthia Willett, “The Sting of Shame: Ridicule, Rape, and Social Bonds,” in Oxford Handbook on Philosophy and Race, ed. Naomi Zack (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).
28 Thomas Flynn, “Foucault as Parrhesiast: His Last Lecture Course at the College de France (1984),” in The Final Foucault, ed. James Bernauer and David Rasmussen (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991), 102–18. On power as a dynamic relationship, not a static thing to be possessed, see Collins and Bilge, Intersectionality, 26.
30 Collins and Bilge, Intersectionality, 25.
31 Henri Bergson, Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, trans. Cloudesley Brereton and Fred Rothwell (1911; reprint, Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 2005).
32 Northrop Frye explores this motif through the figure of the imposter rather than the hubristic, obscuring aspects of the political stakes relevant for feminist and related forms of humor; see Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957), 39.
33 For a philosophical analysis of the asshole, see Aaron James, Assholes: A Theory (New York: Doubleday, 2012), 5. For the dick as target, see Lori Marso, “Feminist Cringe Comedy: Dear Dick, the Joke Is on You,” Politics and Gender 15, no. 1 (2018).
34 Nichols, “All Is Well.”
36 Bakhtin, Rabelais, 426.
37 National Lampoon’s Animal House, dir. John Landis (Universal Pictures, 1978).
38 Lord Shaftsbury (Anthony Ashley Cooper), Sensus Communis: An Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour, 1709, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, foreword by Douglass Den Uyl (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 2001), 1:37–94, http://oll.libertyfund.org/.
39 Herbert Spencer, “The Physiology of Laughter,” in Essays on Education, Etc. (London: Dent, 1911), 298–309.
40 Sigmund Freud, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton, 1963).
41 For a somewhat helpful discussion, see James W. Pennebaker, Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions (New York: Guilford Press, 1997). See also Jacqueline Garrick, “The Humor of Trauma Survivors: Its Application in a Therapeutic Milieu,” Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma 12, no. 1 (2006): 169–82.
42 Carimah Townes, “The Feminist ‘Slutwalk’ Movement Just Landed the Perfect Celebrity Spokesperson,” Think Progress, October 3, 2015, https://thinkprogress.org/; Alanna Vagianos, “Amber Rose Owns Her Sexuality with Hilarious ‘Walk of No Shame,’” Huffington Post, September 15, 2015, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/.
43 Ahmed Ahmed, Maz Jobrani, Aron Kader, and Dean Obeidallah, “The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour,” Comedy Central, 2007.
44 Nicholas A. Cristakis and James H. Fowler, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (New York: Hackett Book Group, 2009).
45 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.”
46 Noel Carroll, Humour: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Robert Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams Jr., Inside Jokes (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2013). Ted Cohen draws on Kant to sever the question of the offensive from the funny in Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1999), 84. We suspect rape jokes wouldn’t be experienced as funny if they trigger retraumatization.
47 Simon Critchley, On Humor (New York: Routledge, 2002); Sigmund Freud, “Humour,” in Art and Literature (1927; reprint, London: Penguin, 1976). Throughout our book, we contrast our view with a Stoic conception of life and humor. We do not deny the power of Stoic techniques to navigate our fate, but the Stoics make too sharp a dichotomy between what we can and can’t control, then anchor that dichotomy in a mind–body binary. Our reflections on humor operate in the nebulous zone of what is partly but incompletely under our control, and thus from the vantage point of our vulnerability to harm together with our ability to challenge harmful norms and identities that would otherwise seem to be our fate.
48 Hitchens, “Why Women Aren’t Funny.”
49 Elizabeth Wilson, Gut Feminism (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2015).
50 Lindy West, “Comedy Helps Us Love Our Bodies,” interview by Lily Percy, Creating Our Own Lives, NPR, June 8, 2017, https://onbeing.org/programs/humor-as-a-tool-for-survival/. Note that Day differentiates the irony of detachment, and implicitly its stoicism, from the irony of earnest political engagement in Satire and Dissent, 29–30. Her study of earnest humor in U.S. culture in effect calls into question the play/serious binary that has been used to define all humor.
52 Frans de Waal, Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006), 59.
54 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor”; Jaak Panksepp, “Rough and Tumble Play: A Fundamental Brain Process,” in Parent–Child Play, ed. Kevin MacDonald (Albany: State University of New York Press); and Max Eastman, Enjoyment of Laughter (New York: Halcyon House, 1936).
55 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.”
56 Eastman, Enjoyment, 15; also cited in Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.” Eastman bases humor on the distinction between the playful and the serious, a binary that does not account for much of recent U.S. comedy.
57 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.”
58 Bakhtin, Rabelais.
59 Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals (Novato: New World Press, 2007), 89.
60 Bekoff, Emotional Lives of Animals, 87.
1 Philip Auslander, “‘Brought to You by Fem-Rage’: Stand-up Comedy and the Politics of Gender,” in Acting Out: Feminist Performances, ed. Lynda Hart and Peggy Phelan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), 316; Gail Finney, “Introduction: Unity in Difference?,” in Look Who’s Laughing: Gender and Comedy, ed. Gail Finney (Langhorne, Pa.: Gordon and Breach, 1994), 11; Danielle Russell, “Self-Deprecatory Humour and the Female Comic: Self-Destruction or Comedic Construction?,” thirdspace 2, no. 1 (2002), http://www.thirdspace.ca/.
2 Susan J. Douglas, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media (New York: Times Books/Random House, 1995), 165; see also Susan J. Douglas, Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message that Feminism’s Work Is Done (New York: Times Books/Henry Holt, 2010).
3 Sally Haslanger, “Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone),” Hypatia 23, no. 2 (2008): 210–23.
4 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 30.
5 Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde (New York: Crossing Press, 2007), 53.
6 Janet Halley, Split Decisions: How and Why to Take a Break from Feminism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006).
7 Halley, Split Decisions, 13.
8 Halley, Split Decisions, 7. For an account of an erotic politics that traces back to Audre Lorde, see Willett, Irony, 38.
9 Lorde, Sister Outsider, 53.
11 Kathleen Rowe, “Roseanne: Unruly Woman as Domestic Goddess,” in Feminist Television Criticism: A Reader, ed. Charlotte Brundson, Julie D’Acci, and Lynn Spigel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 82.
12 Roseanne, “Life and Stuff,” October 18, 1988. For the interview, see Joel Samuel, “Roseanne Barr: First Television Interview 1984,” YouTube, September 21, 2006, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8AlNnYQwOk.
13 On blues singers, see Angela Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (New York: Vintage, 1999). On the further use of humor in feminist movements, see Kirsten Leng, “When Politics Were Fun: Recovering a History of Humor in U.S. Feminism,” Synoptique 5, no. 1 (2016), special issue on “Humorous Disruptions,” http://synoptique.ca/. Leng characterizes our current era as the “golden age of feminist comedy.” Leng further clarified the significance of Kennedy in an October 23, 2018, e-mail conversation with the authors.
14 Gloria Steinem, “I Was a Playboy Bunny,” in Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, 2nd ed. (New York: Holt, 1995), 367.
15 Ali Wong, Baby Cobra (Netflix, 2016).
16 Clinton as quoted in Regina Barreca, They Used to Call Me Snow White . . . But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor (New York: Penguin Books, 1992), 178.
17 Donald Critchlow, Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005); Nan Enstad, Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999); Estelle B. Freedman, No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women (New York: Random House, 2002); Lori Ginzberg, Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the 19th Century United States (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990); Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (New York: Norton, 1986); Mary Beth Norton, Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980); and Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789–1860 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987).
18 Douglas, Where the Girls Are, 284
19 Barr as quoted in Douglas, Where the Girls Are, 284.
20 CHO Revolution 2004.
21 Quotation from Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (New York: Vintage, 1971). This quotation has been cited by alt-right troll and propagandist Andrew Aglin; see Luke O’Brien, “The Making of an American Nazi,” Atlantic, December 2017, 63. For a discussion of the antifeminist politics of ridicule among the alt-rights in response to a perceived puritanical and self-righteous stance among feminists, see Angela Nagle, “The Evolution of the Alt-Right,” Atlantic, December 2017, 69.
22 Halley, Split Decisions 28; Catherine MacKinnon, “Feminism, Marxism, Method and the State: An Agenda for Theory,” Signs 7, no. 3 (1982): 515.
24 First quote is from “Rape Victim Abortion Funding,” Daily Show, February 7, 2011, http://www.thedailyshow.com/; second from Wanda Sykes, Sick and Tired (HBO, 2006); and third from Tina Fey, Bossypants (New York: Little, Brown, 2011), 141.
25 Fey, Bossypants, 11–12.
26 Fey, Bossypants, 14.
27 Fey, Bossypants, 136.
28 Fey, Bossypants, 141.
30 Fey, Bossypants, 14–15.
31 “Rape Victim Abortion Funding.”
32 Sykes, Sick and Tired, part 7, 3:33. For a larger history of black female satirists, see Jessyka Finley, “Black Women’s Satire as (Black) Postmodern Performance,” Studies in American Humor 2, no. 2 (2016): 236–65.
33 Finley, “Black Women’s Satire.”
34 Finley, “Black Women’s Satire.”
36 Daily Show with Jon Stewart, “Louis C.K.,” clip, http://www.cc.com/video-clips/4per11/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-louis-c-k-.
37 Jennifer L. Pozner, “Louis C.K. on Daniel Tosh’s Rape Joke: Are Comedy and Feminism Enemies?,” Daily Beast, July 18, 2012, http://www.thedailybeast.com/. Louis C.K.’s pattern of this kind of humor undergirds not just the sexist climate in comedy and the entertainment business but also the multiple counts of sexual misconduct and abuse that he has admitted to.
39 West, “How to Make a Rape Joke.”
41 Lorde, Sister Outsider.
42 Lorde, Sister Outsider, 55. Lorde’s use of the ancient Greek word eros, which signifies passion and a strong sense of connection, is useful as an alternative to the ancient Stoics and their practices of detachment (as in the humor of transcendence).
43 Humor is not a cure-all for our social ills. On the contrary, as cultural theorists, historians, and philosophers warn, comedy all too often reproduces narrow forms of community and identity in ways that can pose serious challenges to the egalitarian emphasis of our fumerism. The reactionary function or aims of many jokes coheres with broader claims about comedy from historian Gail Finney. It is her observation that “comedy is based on shared experience, attitudes, and values; it creates in-groups and out-groups by mocking aberrations from the norm or the norm itself.” See her introduction to Look Who’s Laughing, 6–7. This mocking of aberrations from the norm produces pleasure in the audience through feelings of superiority that come from punishing or excluding so-called inferiors. Lawrence E. Mintz similarly warns that a potentially narrow identity is central to a community that is held together through ridicule or in-jokes: “The comedian must establish for the audience that the group is homogenous, a community, if the laughter is to come easily.” See his “Standup Comedy as Social and Cultural Mediation,” American Quarterly 37, no. 1 (1985): 78. Philip Auslander highlights the specifically gendered nature of some of these groups. He notes that when, for example, the female comedian addresses female audience members, she “creates a community with other women based on common experience (frequently of men) . . . [and even] a shared subjectivity that excludes men.” Of course, as Auslander notes, this kind of comedy can be empowering for women by offering forms of identification or recognition. It may operate in the same way that separatism does in a social movement, thereby enabling an oppressed minority to claim an identity, a shared history, and a voice. The subversion of comedy can thus operate through cementing forms of identity and by inverting assumed superiority and inferiority, and this dynamic of exclusion might not always be bad, or for that matter even avoidable. See Auslander, “Brought to You by Fem-Rage,” 320–21. As Joanne R. Gilbert argues, “Hierarchy is essential to most humor.” Gilbert, Performing Marginality: Humor, Gender, and Cultural Critique (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2004), 324. This research should leave us wary that despite its understandable appeal for marginalized groups, comedy may reinvoke insider/outsider and hierarchical social structures. The humor of marginalized communities may invert but not fundamentally alter the system of oppression, and for this reason it may sow the seeds of resentment and backlash rather than progressive social change. In chapter 5, we turn to the use of solidaric empathy in humor to address some of these concerns.
44 Mary Douglas, “Jokes,” in Implicit Meanings: Essays in Anthropology (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985), 95.
45 On resentment, see Wendy Brown, States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995), xi.
46 Lisa Henderson finds that “humor both reveals and produces . . . a cultural mortar or strain of recognition and alliance among even the most tenuously related persons.” See “Simple Pleasures: Lesbian Community and Go Fish,” in Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies, ed. Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young (London: Routledge, 2007), 135–36.
47 Regina Barreca, introduction to Last Laughs: Perspectives on Women and Comedy (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1988), 15. See also Judy Little’s classic study of feminists using humor to critique social norms, Comedy and the Woman Writer (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983).
48 Mintz, “Standup Comedy,” 77.
49 For the classic conservative view of satire’s social function, see Bergson, Laughter.
50 See Charlotte Bunch, “Not by Degrees: Feminist Theory and Education,” in Passionate Politics: Feminist Theory in Action (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987), 244, in which she argues that feminism needs a utopian vision.
51 A utopic vision aimed toward a new, more inclusive, and egalitarian society is a common feature of comic drama; see Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, 182–83.
52 Ladelle McWhorter, Racism and Sexual Oppression in Anglo-America: A Genealogy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 34.
53 McWhorter, Racism and Sexual Oppression, 30.
54 McWhorter, Racism and Sexual Oppression, 31.
55 Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990), 100.
56 Halley, Split Decisions, 200.
57 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), xv.
58 Lynne Huffer, Mad for Foucault (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 210.
59 Todd May, “Approaching Neoliberalism Genealogically: Methodological Considerations,” paper presented at the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division, New York City, December 27–30, 2009.
60 Susan Bordo, The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), 120; Barbara Ehrenreich, The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment (New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1983), 41.
61 Steinem, “I Was a Playboy Bunny.”
62 Flynn, “Foucault as Parrhesiast,” 102–18.
63 Huffer, Mad for Foucault, 242.
64 Philip Hearst, Wimmin, Wimps, and Wallflowers: An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Gender and Sexual Orientation in the United States (Boston: Intercultural Press, 2001); G. Louis Heath, Off the Pigs! The History and Literature of the Black Panther Party (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1976); Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007); Manning Marrable, Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction and Beyond in Black America, 1945–2006, 3rd ed. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007).
65 Mel Watkins, ed., African American Humor: The Best Black Comedy from Slavery to Today (Chicago: Lawrence Hill, 2002).
66 Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins,” 1241–99; Collins, Black Feminist Thought, 201–38; and Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” in Sister Outsider, 110–14. However, many others have also contributed to intersectionality theory, including This Bridge Called My Back, an anthology of writing by radical women of color edited by Chicana feminists Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherrie Moraga (Watertown, Mass.: Persephone Press, 1981), and Elizabeth V. Spelman’s Inessential Woman (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988). For an important account of the term’s history, see Collins and Bilge, Intersectionality, esp. 63–87.
67 Collins and Bilge, Intersectionality, 22.
68 Wanda Sykes, I’ma Be Me (HBO, 2009).
69 Wanda Sykes, I’ma Be Me.
70 Wanda Sykes, I’ma Be Me.
71 Recall that for Friedrich Nietzsche, grammar is the last refuge of piety: “I am afraid that we cannot get rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols” (1889), in The Portable Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Viking, 1968), 483.
72 Margaret Cho quoted in Allison Fraiberg, “Between the Laughter: Bridging Feminist Studies through Women’s Stand-up Comedy,” in Look Who’s Laughing, 324.
74 Margaret Cho, I’m The One That I Want (2002).
76 Russell, “Self-Deprecatory Humour.”
77 Mintz, “Standup Comedy,” 74.
78 Jefferson Cowie and Lauren Boehm, “Dead Man’s Town: Born in the USA, Social History, and Working-Class Identity,” American Quarterly 58, no, 2 (2006): 361.
80 Sykes, I’ma Be Me.
81 Sykes, I’ma Be Me.
82 Sykes, I’ma Be Me.
83 Sykes, I’ma Be Me.
84 Claude M. Steele, “A Threat in the Air: How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity and Performance,” American Psychologist 52, no. 6 (1997): 613–29.
2. Fighting Back against Islamophobia and Post-9/11 Nationalism
1 Ahmed et al., “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour.”
2 Stephen Sheehi, Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign against Muslims (Atlanta, Ga.: Clarity, 2013).
3 Toni Morrison, tweeted from @MsToniMorrison, April 3, 2013.
4 Nadine Nabor writes countering not only with “decolonizing methodologies” that deconstruct Orientalism, as well as the essentializing and objectifying narratives of Arab life and their occlusion as agents used for imperialism, but also that they “[replace] Orientalism with new forms of knowledge.” Nabor, Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism (New York: New York University Press, 2012), 15.
5 Toni Morrison may have claimed Bill Clinton as the first Black U.S. president, but like political thinkers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, she also understands that to be American implies some strong degree of whiteness. See Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903; reprint, New York: Pocket Books, 2005); and Toni Morrison, “Clinton as the First Black President,” New Yorker, October 1998.
6 We draw from many theorists, including Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seigworth, eds., The Affect Theory Reader (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010); Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seigworth, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” in Gregg and Seigworth, Affect Theory Reader, esp. 1–28; Ahmed, Cultural Politics; Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010); John Protevi, Political Affect (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009); Daniel N. Stern, The Interpersonal World of the Infant (New York: Basic Books, 1985); Cynthia Willett, Maternal Ethics and Other Slave Moralities (New York: Routledge, 1995); and Willett, Interspecies Ethics, on resonance, affect clouds, and network theory.
7 Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004), 1.
8 Daniel N. Stern, Forms of Vitality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 4–5, 46.
9 Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 1.
10 For more on this history, see Brennan, Transmission of Affect, 18.
11 Cristakis and Fowler, Connected.
12 Willett, Irony, 37–40.
15 Youssef, “Egyptian Political Satirist.”
16 Ahmed et al., “Axis of Evil.”
17 Real Time with Bill Maher, season 9, episode 212, May 6, 2011.
18 Malcolm X and Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Ballantine, 1999), 327.
19 Caitlin Flanagan, “Is Late Night TV Helping Democracy or Debasing It?,” Atlantic, May 2017, 58–61.
22 Frans de Waal, The Age of Empathy (New York: Random House, 2009), 19.
24 Colbert, “Fear for All, Part One.”
25 Colbert, “Fear for All, Part One.”
26 Colbert, “Fear for All, Part Two.”
27 Abu-Wardeh, “Axis of Evil.”
28 Tickling Giants, dir. Sara Taksler (Gravitas Ventures, 2016).
29 Cristakis and Fowler, Connected.
30 Cristakis and Fowler, Connected, 108.
31 Cristakis and Fowler, Connected, 108.
32 Youssef, “Egyptian Political Satirist.”
33 Cristakis and Fowler, Connected, 116.
34 Cristakis and Fowler, Connected, 120.
35 Hari Kondabolu, Warn Your Relatives (Netflix, April 27, 2018).
36 Cristakis and Fowler, Connected, 133.
39 On neoliberalism’s tragic underside, see Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2012); and Cynthia Willett and Julie Willett, “Trayvon Martin and the Tragedy of the New Jim Crow,” in Pursuing Trayvon Martin: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Manifestations of Racial Dynamics, ed. George Yancy and Janine Jones (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2012), 215–24.
40 Ahmed et al., “Axis of Evil.”
41 Joseph Boskin and Joseph Dorinson, “Ethnic Humor: Subversion and Survival,” American Quarterly 37, no. 1 (1985): 86.
42 X and Haley, Autobiography, 347.
43 Kondabolu, Warn Your Relatives.
45 Lawrence E. Mintz, “The ‘New Wave’ of Standup Comedians: An Introduction,” America Humor 4, no. 1 (1977): 1.
46 Nancy Fraser and Linda Nicholson, “Social Criticism without Philosophy,” Theory, Culture, and Society 5 (1988): 373–94.
47 Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004).
50 Vijay Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), 69.
51 Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting, x.
52 Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting, x.
53 Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting, x.
54 Watkins, African American Humor.
55 Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (New York: Viking), 11.
56 Steve Estes, I Am a Man! Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 156.
57 Todd Boyd, The H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 28.
58 Laura Pulido, “A Day without Immigrants: The Racial and Class Politics of Immigrant Exclusion,” Antipode 39, no. 1 (2007): 3; Kevin R. Johnson and Bill Ong Hing, “The Immigrant Rights Marches of 2006 and the Prospects for a New Civil Rights Movement,” Harvard Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Law Review 42 (2007).
60 Arturo Rodriguez, “Take Our Jobs,” Colbert Report, July 7, 2010.
62 Lin-Manuel Miranda, The Hamilton Mixtape (Atlantic Records, 2016).
64 Ahmed et al., “Axis of Evil.”
3. Can the Animal Subaltern Laugh?
1 For a discussion of the continuities and parallelism, see de Waal, “Appendix A: Anthropomorphism and Anthropodienial,” in Primates and Philosophers, 59–68. See also Bekoff, Emotional Lives of Animals. For a rich discussion of culture and communication in birds, see Eugene Morton, “Culture Shapes Bird Communication, Too,” Duke Research Blog, June 19, 2012, https://researchblog.duke.edu/.
4 De Waal, Primates and Philosophers; de Waal, Age of Empathy; Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008); Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons: How they Teach Us to Be Human (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009); and Cary Wolfe, Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of the Species, and Posthumanist Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). For use of animal imagery in literature and media, see Susan McHugh, Animal Stories: Narrating across Species Lines (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
5 See Helmuth Plessner, Lachen und Weinen, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 7 (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1984); and Critchley, On Humor, 28.
6 Primatologist Malini Suchak confirms that she has on many occasions had chimpanzees laugh at her; e-mail conversation with authors, April 20, 2013.
7 See Ranajit Guta, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999), for an intriguing list of criteria for subalternality that includes alternative channels of communication. Among these channels, she mainly focuses on rumor, but her analysis might be extended to include laughter and mockery.
8 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 47. For a study of laughter primarily among humans and primates, see Robert R. Provine, Laughter: A Scientific Investigation (New York: Penguin, 2000).
9 On infrapolitics, see James C. Stott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1987).
10 Rise of the Planet of the Apes, dir. Rupert Wyatt (20th Century Fox, 2011). On biopower, see Roberto Esposito, Bíos: Biopolitics and Philosophy, trans. Timothy C. Campbell (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).
11 Elizabeth Kolbert, “Annals of Evolution: Sleeping with the Enemy—What Happened between the Neanderthals and Us?,” New Yorker, August 15, 2011.
12 Charles Siebert, “An Elephant Crackup?,” New York Times Magazine, October 8, 2006; G. A. Bradshaw and Allan N. Schore, “How Elephants Are Opening Doors: Developmental Neuroethology, Attachment and Social Context,” Ethology 113 (2007): 426–36.
13 For a study of that characterizes communal ties as clusters among elephants as nodes of social networks, see Patrick I. Chiyo, Cynthia J. Moss, and Susan C. Alberts, “The Influence of Life History Milestones and Association Networks on Crop-Raiding Behavior in Male African Elephants,” PLoS One 7 (2012), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031382.
14 J. M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999); Jacques Derrida, “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow),” trans. David Wills, Critical Inquiry 28, no. 2 (2002): 369–418; Oliver, Animal Lessons; Chloe Taylor, “The Precarious Lives of Animals,” Philosophy Today 52, no. 1 (2008): 60–73.
15 Susan J. Pearson, The Rights of the Defenseless: Protecting Animals and Children in Gilded Age America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 9.
16 Euripides, Women on the Edge: Four Plays, ed. Ruby Blondell, Mary-Kay Gamel, Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, and Bella Zweig (New York: Routledge, 1999), 12.
17 E. P. Evans, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals (1906), cited in Jeffry St. Clair’s introduction to Jason Hribal, Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance (Petrolia, California: CounterPunch, 2010), 2.
18 St. Clair in Hribal, Fear of the Animal Planet, 7.
19 St. Clair in Hribal, Fear of the Animal Planet, 8.
20 St. Clair in Hribal, Fear of the Animal Planet, 4.
21 Michel de Montaigne, “On Cruelty,” in The Complete Essays of Montaigne (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1958).
22 Pearson, Rights of the Defenseless, 16.
23 For an alternative approach to rights that emphasizes sentience and agency and is thus more congruent with our own emphasis on affect, emotions, and agency, see Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka, Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). They argue for various sorts of citizenship and autonomy as well as rights for nonhumans.
24 On the importance of sympathy, see Martha Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007), 35.
25 Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice, 409.
26 See Martha Nussbaum’s “Beyond ‘Compassion and Humanity,’” in Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions, ed. Cass R. Sunstein and Martha C. Nussbaum (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 299–320. Her aim is to move the compassionate consideration of other creatures from the private, moral realm into the realm of justice. Her approach remains, as she explains, paternalistic.
27 David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960); Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (New York: Basic Books, 2005), 17.
28 De Waal, Primates and Philosophers, 65.
29 This section borrows from Willett, Maternal Ethics, 129–56. For the key texts of Frederick Douglass, see Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, ed. Houston A. Baker Jr. (New York: Viking Penguin, 1982); and “The Heroic Slave,” in Three Classic African-American Novels, ed. William L. Andrews (New York: Mentor, 1990), 27–28.
30 See Willett, Irony, chap. 5, for the three generations of rights and freedoms beyond their liberal conceptions.
31 Much attention has been given as well to technical dimensions of language as a recursive phenomenon. Those who claim that only human language is recursive overlook its role in music, which, as Steven Mithen explains, provides an evolutionary origin for human and nonhuman language; see The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006), 17.
32 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?,” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Basingstoke: Macmillan Education, 1988). See also Spivak’s response to interpretations and revision of the essay in Rosalyn Morris, Can the Subaltern Speak? Reflections on the History of an Idea (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).
33 Nancy Hewitt, No Permanent Waves: Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2010).
34 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 106–7.
35 For more recent calls for animal liberation, see Paola Cavalieri, The Death of the Animal, with Matthew Calarco, John M. Coetzee, Harlan B. Miller, and Cary Wolfe (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).
36 See Con Slobodchikoff, Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012), for the argument that other species communicate and that human language is not an exception in the animal world.
38 Michael Tomasello, Why We Cooperate (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009), 19.
39 Malini Suchak confirms this via e-mail communication to the authors, April 20, 2013.
40 G. A. Bradshaw, Elephants on the Edge (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009), 29.
41 Bradshaw, Elephants on the Edge, 11. The primary source on elephant hippocampus morphology is Atiya Hakeem et al., “Brain of the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana): Neuroanatomy from Magnetic Resonance Images,” Anatomical Record Part A 287a (2005):1117–27. The elephant hippocampus pretty much puts the primate brain to shame in terms of proportional size and structural complexity, according to neuroscientist Katherine Bryant (e-mail correspondence to authors, April 2, 2013). She would amend Bradshaw’s statement to say that the hippocampus is responsible for mediating long-term memory—especially the spatial organization of things (“place cells”), but also social memory. On the hippocampus and place cells, see Elizabeth Marozzi and Kathryn J. Jeffery, “Place, Space and Memory Cells,” Current Biology 22 (2012): 939–42. Bryant notes that it is difficult to distinguish social information from other kinds of information, and that there may be no such thing as nonsocial information. She adds the caveat that the exact function of the hippocampus probably varies from species to species, and it is likely that the elephant hippocampus might focus on social memory. For a discussion of whether the hippocampus encodes only spatial information or also social relationships, see Dharshan Kumaran and Eleanor A. Maguire, “The Human Hippocampus: Cognitive Maps or Relational Memory?,” Journal of Neuroscience 3 (2005): 7254–59.
42 Tomasello et al, Why We Cooperate, 63, 72.
44 Bekoff, Emotional Lives of Animals, 13.
45 Bekoff, Emotional Lives of Animals, 6–7.
46 Jaak Panksepp and Lucy Biven, The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions (New York: Norton, 2012), 371.
47 Tomasello et al, Why We Cooperate, 116.
49 Jesse Bering, “The Rat That Laughed: Do Animals Other Than Humans Have a Sense of humor? Maybe So,” Scientific American 307 (2012): 76.
50 Bering, “Rat That Laughed,” 44.
51 Bering, “Rat That Laughed,” 44.
52 Bering, “Rat That Laughed,” 60.
53 Vicki Hearne, Adam’s Task (New York: Vintage, 1986), 62.
54 Provine, Laughter, 94–95.
55 Bekoff, Emotional Lives of Animals, 87.
56 Bekoff, Emotional Lives of Animals, 89.
57 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 198.
58 Suchak, e-mail communication to authors, April 20, 2013. This is in contrast with “despotic” rhesus monkeys, where a higher-ranking individual will take the food right out of the mouth of a lower-ranking individual—a behavior that would violate the social norms of chimpanzees.
59 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 199, 161, 24.
60 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 47.
61 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 99.
62 This statement by George Orwell is found in Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, eds., The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell, Vol. 3: As I Please, 1943–1945 (New York, 1969), 184. This citation is referenced in Sandra Swart’s article “‘The Terrible Laughter of the Afrikaner’: Towards a Social History of Humor,” Journal of Social History 42 (2009): 899.
63 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 8. See also Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871; reprint, New York: Hurst, 1878), esp. chap. 3.
64 Bradshaw, Elephants on the Edge, 14.
65 De Waal, Primates and Philosophers, 44–45.
66 Todd M. Preuss, e-mail communication to authors, July 14, 2011.
67 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 187.
68 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 59.
69 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 61.
70 This quotation is from Spanish writer Oriol Pi-Sunyer’s “Political Humor in a Dictatorial State: The Case of Spain,” Ethnohistory 24 (1977): 179–90, cited in Swart, “Terrible Laughter,” 899.
71 De Waal, Age of Empathy, 72.
72 Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 90.
73 Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, 95.
74 Bekoff, Emotional Lives of Animals, 57.
75 Hribal, Fear of the Animal Planet, 11.
76 See Philip Caputo, Ghosts of Tsavo: Stalking the Missing Lions of East Africa (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2009).
77 Hribal, Fear of the Animal Planet, 25–26.
78 Vicki L. Ruiz, From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America, 10th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Annelise Orleck, Storming Caesar’s Palace: How Black Women Fought Their Own War on Poverty (Boston: Beacon Press, 2006).
79 Eileen Boris and Rhacel Salazar Parrenas, eds., Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2010).
80 Alexander Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975).
81 See, e.g., David R. Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (New York: Verso, 2007); Working toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White—The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs (New York: Basic Books, 2006); and History against Misery (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 2006).
82 Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting.
83 See, e.g., Calvin Martin, The Way of the Human Being (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000); Calvin Martin, In the Spirit of the Earth: Rethinking History and Time (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993); Calvin Martin, Keepers of the Game: Indian–Animal Relationships and the Fur Trade (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); Howard Harrod, The Animals Came Dancing: Native American Sacred Ecology and Animal Kinship (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000); and Joel Martin, The Land Looks After Us: A History of Native American Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).
84 Eileen Boris, “The Gender of Labor History: The Difference It Makes,” Genesis 15, no. 2 (2016): 147–66.
85 Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906; reprint, Hollywood, Fla.: Simon and Brown, 2012); Modern Times, dir. Charles Chaplin (Charles Chaplin Productions, 1936).
86 Haraway, When Species Meet.
87 Thomas G. Andrews, Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008), 134.
88 Andrews, Killing for Coal, 130.
89 Susan Orlean, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011), 52. Another apparently true animal story turned into a movie tells of two lions who worked together against the British attempt to build a railroad across their territory in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century. See The Ghost and the Darkness, dir. Stephen Hopkins (Constellation Entertainment, 1996).
90 Haraway, When Species Meet, 21.
4. A Catharsis of Shame
2 Gary Kinsman, “AIDS Activism and the Politics of Emotion: An Interview with Deborah Gould,” Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action 8 (2009): 72. See also Arlie Russell Hochschild, “Emotion Work, Feeling Rules, and Social Structure,” American Journal of Sociology 85, no. 3 (1979): 551–75. On the exploitation of affective labor, see Shiloh Whitney, “Affective Indigestion: Lorde, Fanon, and Gutierrez-Rodriguez on Race and Affective Labor,” Journal of Speculative Philosophy 30, no. 3 (2016): 278–91.
3 For more on queer camp, see Lauran Whitworth, “Goodbye Gauley Mountain, Hello Eco-Camp: Queer Environmentalism in the Anthropocene,” Feminist Theory 21, no. 1 (2018): 73–92.
4 Michael Gershon, The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine (New York: HarperCollins, 1999); Haidt, Happiness Hypothesis, 5; Haraway, When Species Meet, 6; Willett, Interspecies Ethics, 84, 113–17; Wilson, Gut Feminism; Shannon Sullivan, The Physiology of Sexist and Racist Oppression (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 66–98.
5 Carroll, Humour; Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.”
6 Carroll, Humour, 18.
7 Carroll, Humour, 19.
8 Krefting, All Joking Aside, 4, 7.
9 We are therefore not surprised to see that increasingly psychologists are beginning to question cerebral theories of humor. See Rod A. Martin, The Psychology of Humor: An Integrative Approach (Burlington, Mass.: Elsevier Academic Press, 2007). Martin argues that humor is defined by the emotion of mirth as he brings together research demonstrating how humor can play a role in negotiating social relationships. Note by contrast that Critchley explicitly characterizes the highest laughter as “mirthless”; On Humor, 49–50. We are looking at not just mirth but a range of emotions while also questioning the serious/playful binary that Martin, among others, holds to.
10 We do not deny the popularity of absurdist humor. Krefting observes that in contrast with political and charged humor, for the most part the public prefers safe, absurdist, shock, or modern-day minstrelsy humor; see All Joking Aside, 104.
11 Critchley, On Humor.
12 Freud, “Humour,” 427–33.
13 Freud, Jokes. In fact, Freud’s updated theory of humor seems to trace back to what he considers the least tendentious and most mature mode of the comedic in this earlier text. In this updated theory, Freud believes that the achievement of humor represents the ultimate stage of maturity. In contrast, what he views as the most tendentious mode of the comedic, the transgressive joke, we return to later.
14 Critchley, On Humor, 94–95.
15 Critchley, On Humor, 109.
16 Vagianos, “Amber Rose Owns Her Sexuality.”
17 Samantha Bee, Full Frontal, September 26, 2018; Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, “Sam Goes Full Carrie over Kavanaugh,” YouTube, September 26, 2018, https://youtu.be/yqrZBfk3lv0; Matt Wilstein, “Samantha Bee Goes Nuclear on GOP for ‘Slut-Shaming’ Kavanaugh Accusers,” Daily Beast, September 26, 2018, https://www.thedailybeast.com/.
18 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.”
19 Ralph Ellison, “The Extravagance of Laughter” (1985), in Going to the Territory (New York: Vintage Books, 2011).
20 Shaftsbury, Sensus Communis.
21 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.”
22 Andrew Stott, Comedy: The New Critical Idiom (New York: Routledge, 2014), 100–101.
23 Spencer, “Physiology of Laughter.”
24 Freud, Jokes.
25 Morreall, “Philosophy of Humor.”
26 Pennebaker, Opening Up.
27 Pennebaker, Opening Up, 100–101.
28 Stern, Interpersonal World; and Forms of Vitality, esp. 46.
29 Haidt, Happiness Hypothesis, 33. Note, however, that terminology for these distinctions differs across disciplines.
30 Stern, Forms of Vitality, 45. Stern elaborates by drawing on Antonio Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens (Boston: Harcourt, 1999), esp. 286.
31 Bergson, Laughter, 22.
32 Susanne Langer, Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art Developed from Philosophy in a New Key (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953).
33 Lorde, Sister Outsider.
34 Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, 181.
35 Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement (1790), trans. James Creed Meredith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 54.
36 Edmund J. Bourne, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, 5th ed. (Oakland, Calif.: New Harbinger, 2010), 82–83.
38 Bourne, Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, 83
39 R. I. M. Dunbar, Rebecca Baron, Anna Frangou, et al., “Social Laughter Is Correlated with an Elevated Pain Threshold,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279 (2012): 1161–67.
40 Bering, “Rat That Laughed.”
41 Critchley, On Humour, 8.
42 Julie Holland, Moody Bitches: The Truth about the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy (New York: Penguin Books, 2015), 71.
43 Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls (New York: Vintage Books, 2010), 64.
44 When Harry Met Sally, dir. Rob Reiner (Castle Rock Entertainment, 1989).
45 Silvan Tomkins, Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader, ed. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Adam Green (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1995), 218, discusses the gendering of shame as female and anger as male.
46 In fact, in certain respects, these philosophers’ negative take on the irrational emotions may pose problems for psychic well-being. A certain amount of dwelling on intense negative emotions and deriving insight from them rather than moderating or rising above them can be good for us. Tori Rodriguez, “Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being,” Scientific American Mind, May 1, 2013. See also Lorde’s “Uses of Anger,” in Sister Outsider, 124–33, and “Eye to Eye,” in Sister Outsider, 145–75.
47 “Periods in Ramadan,” Instagram, November 1, 2018, https://www.instagram.com/p/BjVJHffntz8/?hl=en&taken-by=mistahislah.
49 John McCumber, “Aristotelian Catharsis and the Purgation of Women,” Diacritics 18, no. 4 (1988): 62.
50 McCumber, “Aristotelian Catharsis,” 61.
51 McCumber, “Aristotelian Catharsis,” 62.
52 McCumber, “Aristotelian Catharsis,” 67.
53 Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).
54 Nussbaum, Fragility of Goodness, 390.
55 Elizabeth Belfiore, Tragic Pleasures: Aristotle on Plot and Emotion (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992), 336.
56 Belfiore, Tragic Pleasures, 336.
57 Ellison, “Extravagance of Laughter.” For a similar discussion of playing the dozens, see Lorde, Sister Outsider, 171.
58 Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (London: Routledge, 1966). According to Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, first published in 1755, a dirty woman defines the slut. As the 2016 presidential campaign tactics of the pussy grabber highlights, we also know her as the nasty woman. Thousands of women fought back by sporting pink pussy hats in the 2017 Women’s March after Trump’s inauguration.
59 Vagianos, “Amber Rose Owns Her Sexuality.”
60 Bakhtin, Rabelais, 6. Bakhtin’s particular rendition of the carnivalesque has limits for feminism but is an important reference.
61 Townes, “Feminist ‘Slutwalk’ Movement.”
62 Robin Hilmantel, “Amber Rose Announces Date for the Next Slut Walk,” Motto, May 10, 2016. The comic tradition of the unruly woman traces back to classic Roseanne Barr and to Mae West’s burlesque-influenced performances; see Rowe, “Roseanne.”
63 Townes, “Feminist ‘Slutwalk’ Movement.” See also Melinda Chateuavert, Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk (Boston: Beacon Press, 2014).
64 Tomkins, Shame and Its Sisters, 133.
65 Willett, “Sting of Shame.” See also Sandra Lee Bartky, “Shame and Gender,” in Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression (New York: Routledge, 1990), 83–98.
66 Anthony J. Steinbock, Moral Emotions: Reclaiming the Evidence of the Heart (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 2014), 67.
67 Tomkins, Shame and Its Sisters.
68 Tomkins, Shame and Its Sisters, 137.
69 Tomkins, Shame and Its Sisters.
70 J. M. Lamont, “Trait Body Shame Predicts Health Outcomes in College Women: A Longitudinal Study,” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 38, no. 5 (2015): 998–1008.
71 Sally S. Dickerson, Tara L. Gruenewald, and Margaret E. Kemey, “When the Social Self Is Threatened: Shame, Physiology, and Health,” Journal of Personality 72, no. 6 (2004): 1191–16.
72 Our queasy stomach’s reactions to psychopaths, aka those lacking capacities for shame and empathy, underscore the need to have a gut you can trust. See Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (New York: HarperCollins, 2009); Eric Barker, “5 Ways to Deal with a Psychopath,” Time, October 18, 2016; and J. Reid Meloy and M. J. Meloy, “Autonomic Arousal in the Presence of Psychopathy: A Survey of Mental Health and Criminal Justice Professionals,” Journal of Threat Assessment 2 (2002): 21–33.
73 Consider how “Several researchers have discussed how memory and thought processes can be viewed as external to our brains. Dan Wegner of the University of Virginia has provided fascinating examples of how partners in a marriage gradually become repositories of each other’s thoughts and memories. One partner may remember restaurants; the other may keep track of movies.” Pennebaker, Opening Up, 98. Daniel M. Wegner, Toni Giuliano, and Paula T. Hertel, “Cognitive Interdependence in Close Relationships,” in Compatible and Incompatible Relationships, edited by William Ickes (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1985).
74 Slate, “Muslims Can’t Take a Joke about Islam?”
5. Solidaric Empathy and a Prison Roast with Jeff Ross
1 Jeff Ross, Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live at Brazos County Jail, Comedy Central, season 1, episode 1, June 13, 2015; Jeff Ross, Jeff Ross Roasts Cops, Comedy Central, season 1, episode 1, September 10, 2016. See also Day, Satire and Dissent, 21–23, where she explains that much of the impact of counterpublics in social media is not through a single isolated event but through incremental effects of multiple events gradually shifting the public discourse.
2 While hip-hop is often associated with music, comedy has also played a crucial role in hip-hop culture and its impact on global politics. See K. A. Wisniewski, ed., The Comedy of Dave Chappelle: Critical Essays (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2009), 153.
3 Wickberg, Senses of Humor. We draw on this work to trace dominant views of humor, not to endorse any assumptions of linear historical progress or to assert that there are no conflicting cultures of humor between dominant and subversive groups.
4 Wickberg, Senses of Humor, 66.
6. Wickberg, Senses of Humor, 66.
7 Wickberg, Senses of Humor, 55–59.
8 Linda Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony (London: Routledge, 1994), 29.
9 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 59.
10 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 61. Lintott, in “Superiority,” counters prevailing assumptions that ridicule theory dominated Western philosophical texts about laughter in ancient and early modern times. While Plato, Aristotle, and Hobbes railed against ridicule, which they thought of as maliciously directed toward those who were simultaneously self-ignorant and powerless, they recognized what were considered to be the graceful pleasures and charms of wit. Note also that Hume’s account of sympathy emphasizes feelings, and thus he veered away from Stoic conceptions. Yet for him too only elite cultures were thought to have the correct feelings. See the editors’ introduction to Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie, Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Approaches (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), ix–xlvii, esp. x–xi. On the elitist pretensions of the sympathy revolution as found in Hume, see Monique Roelofs, The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015), 55. On the Stoic notion of rational sympathy, see William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 157.
11 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 60.
12 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 60.
13 Spike Lee, dir., Bamboozled (2000).
14 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 79.
15 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 94.
16 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 101.
17 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 11.
18 Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge, 102.
19 Minoru Asada, Yukie Nagai, and Hisashi Ishihara, “Why Not Artificial Sympathy?,” in S. S. Ge, O. Khatib, J. J. Cabibihan, R. Simmons, and M. A. Williams, eds., Social Robotics: ICSR 2012—Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Berlin: Springer, 2012), 7621:278–87.
20 Asada, Nagai, and Ishihara, “Why Not Artificial Sympathy?,” 7621:94–95.
21 Asada, Nagai, and Ishihara, “Why Not Artificial Sympathy?,” 7621:96.
22 Paul Bloom, Against Empathy (New York: HarperCollins, 2016); see also Jesse Prinz, “Is Empathy Necessary for Morality?,” in Coplan and Goldie, Empathy, 221–29. For important concerns about selective empathy, specifically “himathy,” see Kate Manne, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
23 Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams: Essays (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2014).
24 Coplan, “Understanding Empathy: Its Features and Effects,” in Coplan and Goldie, Empathy, 5. Coplan offers an incisive view of the matching theory of empathy, one that avoids assuming that we can put ourselves in the shoes of others. For an overview of work on empathy, see the editors’ introduction, ix–xlvii. See also Mark Fagiano, “Relational Empathy,” International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 27, no. 2 (2019). Heidi L. Maibom, Empathy and Morality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 4: “Empathy aims to match the emotion that the other experiences or could reasonably be expected to experience in her situation. By contrast, the affective quality of sympathy only matches in the broadest possible terms the welfare of the other.” As these authors point out, the terms “empathy” and “sympathy” are both widely confused—and in fact have shifting definitions. Our approach is offered to locate a potential for forging solidarity across lines on a fraught social field.
25 Jamison, Empathy Exams, 15.
26 Jamison, Empathy Exams, 15.
27 Jamison, Empathy Exams, 6.
28 Jamison, Empathy Exams, 15.
29 Jamison, Empathy Exams, 10.
30 Jamison, Empathy Exams, 10.
31 On the limits of white empathy, see Janine Jones, “The Impairment of Empathy in Goodwill Whites for African Americans,” in What White Looks Like, edited by George Yancy (New York: Routledge, 2004). On the theft of others’ suffering and a careful attention to the dangers of empathy, see Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 18–20.
32 See Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 30, 35, 37–39. But Ahmed seems to have in mind either a matching or a contagion theory of empathy, and so allows for our notion of radical empathy.
33 For explorations of felt resonance with others, see discussions of correspondence and affect attunement in Willett, Maternal Ethics, 24–30, 92–95; and across nonhuman species in Willett, Interspecies Ethics, 80–99.
34 Another comic who mixes various forms of ridicule with a radical empathy that can cross political lines is Stephen Colbert. When asked what he is most hopeful for, Colbert recalls wondering “what happened to socially conscious music,” and how he misses “top forty songs like ‘Come on people now . . . Try to love one another right now.’” His hoped-for aim, he says, is that his “nightly comedy show . . . is also about love.” See his podcast with Oprah Winfrey, “Stephen Colbert: Finding Your Stride,” Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, March 6, 2018, https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/own/oprahs-supersoul-conversations/. On the eros figure, see Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, 173ff.
35 Rowe, “Roseanne,” 68.
36 See Mel Watkins, On the Real Side: Laughing, Lying, and Signifying the Underground Tradition of African-American Humor that Transformed American Culture, from Slavery to Richard Pryor (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994).
37 Haidt, Happiness Hypothesis, 12.
38 Tomkins, Shame and Its Sisters, 55.
39 Dan Zahavi explains both views with great clarity while developing the latter. See “Empathy and Social Cognition,” in Self and Other: Exploring Subjectivity, Empathy, and Shame (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 153–87. But there are other rich variations of these views. Lori Gruen offers an analysis of empathy as a caring type of moral perception, one that can draw on reflection and more information for greater accuracy. See Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals (Brooklyn: Lantern Books, 2015), 39. Martha Nussbaum’s analysis of empathy as perceptual displacement counts on correction from impartial reason and is guided by compassion; see Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013), 145ff. Our account shares aspects of these but centers empathy not on perception but on emotional engagement, and fully within underlying power dynamics.
40 Jamison, Empathy Exams, 5.
41 C. Wright Mills quote cited in Wickberg, Senses of Humor, 109.
42 “Johnny Cash—San Quentin (Live From Prison),” YouTube, March 4, 2006, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zgja26eNeY. Krefting, All Joking Aside, provides a rich history of stand-up from its origins in post–World War II U.S. culture, especially in chap. 2. She traces how political satire or what she calls charged humor precedes and prepares for the open rebellion of the 1960s with such figures as Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, and Dick Gregory. She also explains how the 1980s became a time of safe comedy and staid Reagan conservativism. Since the 1990s, we have begun to cycle through a similar phenomenon with comics charging the political climate, and feminist along with other marginalized voices more prominent.
43 Alexander, New Jim Crow; Tricia Rose, The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk about When We Talk about Hip Hop—And Why It Matters (New York: Basic Books, 2008).
44 Tom LoBianco, “Report: Aide Says Nixon’s War on Drugs Targeted Blacks, and Hippies,” CNN, March 23, 2016.
45 Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (New York: Henry Holt, 2005).
46 See Julie Willett, Oink! Feminism, Humor, and the Rise of the Chauvinist Pig (unpublished).
47 Ross, Jeff Ross Roasts Cops.
48 In 2017, Ross takes on the hot issue of immigration and roasts the proposal for a border wall in Brownsville, Texas. Jeff Ross, Jeff Ross Roasts the Border, Comedy Central, season 1, episode 1, November 16, 2017.
1 Tig Notaro, Live, 2013, Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/; Melissa Leon, “How Comedian Tig Notaro Found Love after Cancer,” Daily Beast, July 20, 2015, https://www.thedailybeast.com/. We expand elements of this conclusion in “The Comic in the Midst of Tragedy’s Grief with Tig Notaro, Hannah Gadsby, and Others,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (forthcoming).
2 Hannah Gadsby, Nanette (2017 stand-up show released on Netflix in 2018).
3 Gadsby, Nanette.
4 Gadsby, Nanette.
5 Gadsby, Nanette.