Interview: Comic Relief – A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor

What makes something funny? John Morreall has been studying humor for more than 25 years and, as well as being a professor of religious studies at the College of William & Mary, he is the author of Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor. We were lucky enough to catch up with John recently, and he told us about his long term interest in the subject, and explored some of the themes in his book.

The Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Comic Relief?

John Morreall: I’ve been teaching and writing about humor since the early 1980s.  My book Taking Laughter Seriously came out in 1983, and then my anthology The Philosophy of Laughter and Humor in 1987.  Since then my thinking about humor has matured, so I wanted to refine old ideas and articulate new ones.  The big idea I wanted to work out in this book is that humor is a kind of play.  Play is an essential part of life, but it gets very little attention from philosophers.  Analyzing humor as a kind of play generates insights into its value and also fits well with current scientific thought about the evolution of laughter. Continue reading “Interview: Comic Relief – A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor”