When E. B. White said “analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog; few people are interested and the frog dies,” he hadn’t seen Al Gini’s hilarious, incisive, and informative take on jokes, joke-telling, and the jokers who tell jokes. For Gini, humor is more than just foolish fun: it serves as a safety valve for dealing with reality that gives us the courage to endure that which we cannot understand or avoid. Not everyone tells jokes. Not everyone gets a joke, even a good one. But, Gini argues, joke-telling can act as both a sword and a shield to defend us from reality. As the late, great stand-up comic Joan Rivers put it: ‘If you can laugh at it, you can live with it!’
Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. For over twenty-seven years he was the Resident Philosopher on National Public Radio’s Chicago affiliate, WBEZ-FM, and can currently be heard on WGN/Tribune Radio. His newest book is The Importance of Being Funny: Why We Need More Jokes In Our Lives.
Originally aired September 2017.