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Examined Life
Further Materials
Slush Pile


Every issue has one section dedicated to a particular question. Collecting responses from a range of perspectives, these symposia prompt us to think about the values and ideas that shape our most urgent cultural and personal decisions.


Summer 2017


Saint Bart

For over a decade, starting as early as I can remember and going on into the middle of adolescence, The Simpsons was the most important…


Comedy Studies

The following are actual titles of papers published in peer-reviewed academic journals.


Things Don’t Make Sense

I think for me, the comedic impulse comes from the same place as the philosophical one.


Shock and Ow

The first time I noticed the blood on the inside of my bra, I figured it was barbecue sauce. (You know the old adage “Is…


Insert Punchline

Comedy is for making people laugh. Had the editors not demanded an additional 1,494 words, I would happily have left my contribution to this symposium…


Punching Down

I recently found myself at an academic conference that featured a presentation by graduate students on “combating racism with humor.”


The Audacity of Jokes

I never considered Trevor Noah until I found myself on the set of The Daily Show last August.


Rallying Sigh

In October of 2010 I attended a mass demonstration on the National Mall, which also happened to be a live taping of The Daily Show.


Letter on Satire

What to do on Saturday night is a philosophical problem. Notwithstanding the scheduling idiosyncrasies created by our “flexible” economy, it remains the time of week…