Once upon a time (for millennia, actually), survival was the primary focus of the human race. But the ensuing drive toward progress changed that. While the 20th century was dominated by innovation, the 21st has been conquered by comedy and our insatiable need to find humor in every aspect of life. Is this a sign of how far we've evolved? "Everything is funny now," writes Ken Jennings. "Shouldn't we be happier?"
Jennings (Because I Said So!) explores the history of comedy, from the (almost) humorless Dark Ages to today, where funniness is ubiquitous (and embraced by millennials as the chief form of self-expression). Formulaic jokes have given way to absurd humor and sitcoms today can have six jokes per minute; previous generations could hardly have kept up. We expect everything to be funny--advertising, news, politicians, even airline safety videos--and to be funny all the time. Social media has leveled the playing field so everyone's a comedian, and jokes can go viral (or be panned) within minutes. When we're barraged by hundreds of jokes a day, Jennings argues, they "start to feel less and less like a treat."
Planet Funny is as humorous as you would expect (Jennings, who holds the longest winning streak on Jeopardy! is a funny guy), but also thoughtful. Discussions of edgy comedy in an increasingly socially conscious culture and humor's contribution to the coarsening of our discourse are important to consider. --Frank Brasile, librarian