It may not be official, but National Tell a Joke Day has been celebrated for years. Prepare your one-liners with help from a few MIT Press books:
Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind
By Matthew M. Hurley, Daniel C. Dennett, and Reginald B. Adams, Jr.
“You can tell a joke in one crowd and be rewarded with laughs, yet in another group be repaid with anger. Here’s a joke that some find funny, though others might not agree and some may even be offended:
Q: What has two legs and bleeds?
A: Half a dog.”
Laughter: Notes on a Passion
By Anca Parvulescu
Uncovering an archive of laughter, from the forbidden giggle to the explosive guffaw.
“Laughter is a motion, forceful, sudden and repetitive; and it is the sound of a bursting, inarticulate voice… As for the passional chemistry needed to produce laughter: it always involves a dose of wonder, sometimes joy, sometimes hatred, sometimes both joy and hatred.”
The Odd One In: On Comedy
By Alenka Zupančič
Zupančič examines the mechanisms and processes by which comedy lets the odd one in.
Comedy by its nature is difficult to pin down with concepts and definitions, but as artistic form and social practice it is a mode of tarrying with a foreign object—of including the exception. Philosophy's relationship to comedy, Zupančič writes, is not exactly a simple story (and indeed includes some elements of comedy).
The Artist’s Joke
Edited by Jennifer Higgie
Jokes and humor in avant-garde and contemporary art, as discussed by writers and artists ranging from Freud and Picasso to Andrea Fraser, Guerilla Girls, and Slavoj Zizek.
Ever since Freud's Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious appeared in 1905, humor both light and dark has frequently surfaced as a subversive, troubling, or liberating element in art. The Artist's Joke surveys the rich and diverse uses of humor by avant-garde and contemporary artists.