Dating back to Aristotle’s earliest treatises on theater and literature in the third century BCE, comedy is one of the oldest and most formative artistic genres. In comedy’s earliest form, comic poets took to the ancient Greek stage to perform political satires aimed at poking fun at conflicts between peoples. This use laid the groundwork for humor’s adoption as a tool to discuss and debate topics that otherwise might be too uncomfortable or taboo in society.
Over the centuries since, comedy has flourished across the spectrum of art, design, and cultural pursuits while still retaining its use of absurdity, exaggeration, and conflict to question societies. Exploring new developments in the use of comedy, the Walker Reader series No Joke: Humor as Resistance gathers a collection of interviews, essays, and reflections by cultural practitioners and artists to examine comedy as a tool for social critic and change. Through this, the series asks,” How have new developments in technology changed humor’s role in society? Can comedy be used to push back against social disparities and hate? I can haz cheezburger?”