Category Archives: Conference

Editor’s Chair: Looking for New Contributing Editor and a Short-Term Poetry Editor(plus News & Conference CFPs from the AHSA!)

Tracy Wuster

 

We here at Humor in America are looking to fill two posts: a Contributing Editor to write for us on a regular basis and a short-term Poetry Editor to write for 2-3 months.  The Contributing Editor would write once every eight weeks on a topic of their choosing–some editors like having a topic (i.e. “music,” “poetry,” “comics,” etc.) and some prefer winging it on whatever subject seems topical to them (i.e. Brian Williams, Hal Holbrooktelevision shows, risky humor, or Charlie Hebdo…and here and here).  In the short term, we are looking for someone to write two or three posts on poetry for the next few months while our poetry editor is on leave.  Any humorous poetry is fine–from any period.  The first post could go as early as Friday or Saturday, then once per month after that.

If you are interested in either of these, please let me know at wustert@gmail.com

*In other humor studies news, the American Humor Studies Association has a new website design, as does their journal Studies in American Humor.  I designed them both. Kudos will be accepted; critiques pondered.


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*On those sites you will find exciting opportunities, such as the ability to purchase the newest special issue of Studies:“MAD MAGAZINE AND ITS LEGACIES” (click for Table of Contents).  The cost is $20 for the issue, or a discount of $18 when you join the AHSA for this year.

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*Speaking of special issues, on the journal page you will find a list of all past and upcoming special issues, including the call for papers for an upcoming issue:

Call for Papers: “Is American Satire Still in a Postmodern Condition?”

Special issue on contemporary satire for Studies in American Humor (Fall 2016), James E. Caron (University of Hawaii—Manoa), Guest Editor; Judith Yaross Lee (Ohio University, Editor).

In response to the torrent of satiric materials that has been and continues to be produced in recent years, Studies in American Humor invites proposals for 20-page essays using the rubric of “the postmodern condition” as an analytical gambit for demarcating a poetics of American comic art forms that use ridicule to enable critique and promote the possibility of social change.  See link for more.

*Also upcoming are a number of conferences, including the ISHS 25th anniversary in Oakland, CA; MLA in Austin, TX; and SAMLA in Durham, NC.  You should check out the announcement here.

*Another piece of exciting news is that the whole back run of Studies in American Humor is on Jstor.  See all the Table of Contents and first pages here.

*If you have announcements from other societies or for CFPs or any other news, send them to Tracy Wuster at wustert@gmail.com

*And since the Emmys and Oscars snubbed Joan Rivers in their In Memoriam segments, here is a small tribute:

Joan Rivers picture in memoriam

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Risk vs. Reward: When are Jokes too Risky?

The “reward” for humor is obvious—the payback for the humorist is when the audience laughs. The payback for the audience is also the laugh—it brightens an otherwise difficult day, relaxes as the laughter happens, and lets an audience leave the show, piece, or joke a bit happier than they were before. However, being the humorist is not without risk. What induces laughter in one person can offend another—this has been the legacy of humor since ancient times. Thus, those to whom humor is a profession must walk a fine line between taking a risk and reaping a reward.

Mark Twain found this out during his Whittier Birthday speech, delivered on 17 December 1877. In the speech, he told a story about four drunken miners whom he described such that without doubt, the characters referred to Whittier, the guest of honor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes—often described as the “Boston Brahmins.” The joke fell through, and Twain was embarrassed by the reactions of the audience and the public when the speeches were published in the Boston Globe the following day. The Cincinnati Commercial asserted that Twain “lacked the instincts of a gentleman,” and even in the less conservative West the Rocky Mountain News called the speech “offensive to every intelligent reader.” Twain published an abject apology a week later, and even after 25 years the criticism still stung. Sometimes parodying a cultural icon is just too risky.

Twain’s 1877 faux pas illustrates just how difficult it is to gauge an audience’s reaction to material that the artist considers humorous. At this year’s Modern Language Association in Vancouver, three fine presenters delivered papers on the topic of “Comic Dimensions and Variety of Risk.” Jennifer Santos read her paper on Holocaust jokes in Epstein’s King of the Jews, Roberta Wolfson presented on the Canadian television show, Little Mosque on the Prairie, and John Lowe read his essay on Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. Each presenter focused the talk on reception of the humor and the acceptable amount of risk a comedian or humorist can take and still reap the “reward” of laughter. Aside from hearing three wonderful examinations on a variety of humorous subjects, this panel generated discussion of the broader issue of risk versus reward every purveyor of humor must determine for any written or spoken performance. Who is allowed to joke about possibly sensitive events? From whom are we willing to accept a joke that takes a risk of offending?

Continue reading →

American Humor Studies Association/Mark Twain Circle of America Quadrennial Conference 2014

American Humor Studies Association

Mark Twain Circle of America

Quadrennial Conference 2014

December 4-7, 2014

Four Points Sheraton French Quarter

 

The American Humor Studies Association, in conjunction with the Mark Twain Circle of America, sends out this general call for papers on American humor and Mark Twain. The topics below are suggestions for topics that we think will be of interest; other topics are welcome, and we welcome especially submissions of sessions of three papers or roundtables. The topics are broad in the hope that scholars will be able to find one that fits their current research. Submissions should be sent to Jan McIntire-Strasburg via email (mcintire@slu.edu). Please send your submissions by May 15, 2014.

Those sending in submissions for the Mark Twain Circle of America can email their proposals to Ann Ryan at ryanam@lemoyne.edu.

Topics include but are not limited to:

Early American Humor and its European Roots

Nineteenth Century Humor—from Southwest to Northeast to Far West

20th Century Humor and the American Novel

Regional and/or transnational humor

New Media Approaches to Humor

Humor in film, television, comics, and other visual media

Humor and Theatre

Stand-Up Comedy

Online humor

Humor and Ethnicity

Humor and Gender

Humor and Class

Humor and Sexuality

Humor and War

Contemporary Approaches to Irony, Satire, Wit, and other topics

Teaching Humor

New Directions in American Humor Studies

Mark Twain

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Editor’s Chair: The State of the Union

Tracy Wuster, EditorState of the Union Obama

We here at “Humor in America” have seen some big changes to the state of the web page.  A number of our editors–Sharon McCoy, ABE, Matt Daube, and Phil Scepanski–have left or taken a hiatus.  To fill those giant shoes, former contributing editors Bonnie Applebeet and Steve Brykman have returned, and they will be joined by Jan McIntire-Strasburg, the executive director of the American Humor Studies Association, Robert Tally, of Texas State University, and Tara Friedman, of Widener University.  Welcome, and welcome back.

More humor studies news:

* Judith Yaross Lee, the editor of Studies in American Humor, has posted her editorial statement for the journal at the StAH homepage.  Check out:

Enter Laughing:

American Humor Studies in the Spirit of Our Times

* The essay is part of the most recent issue of the journal.  See the Table of Contents.  This is the first issue of which I am the Book Review Editor.  You can get the journal by joining the AHSA here.

*And see the call for a special issue of the journal: American Humor in the 1920s and 1930s: Cross-Media Perspectives

Studies in American Humor, the journal of the American Humor Studies Association, invites submission of scholarly papers on humor across media in the 1920s and 1930s for a special issue of the journal appearing in the fall of 2015, coedited by Rob King (Columbia University) and Judith Yaross Lee (Ohio University).  Specifically, we are interested in papers that explore the circulation of humor within and across media industries during this formative period in the consolidation of American mass culture.

More here.

*The AHSA has a good number of upcoming conferences.  We will have three panels at ALA. We are looking for papers for our MLA and SAMLA panels, as well as for the upcoming Quadrennial Conference in New Orleans (with the Mark Twain Circle).  See the AHSA announcements page.

* The New Orleans conference will be an amazing conference.  Be sure to be there.

American Humor Studies Association

Mark Twain Circle of America

Quadrennial Conference 2014

December 4-7, 2014

Four Points Sheraton French Quarter 

The American Humor Studies Association, in conjunction with the Mark Twain Circle of America, sends out this general call for papers on American humor and Mark Twain.  The topics below are suggestions for topics that we think will be of interest; other topics are welcome, and we welcome especially submissions of sessions of three papers or roundtables.  The topics are broad in the hope that scholars will be able to find one that fits their current research.  Submissions should be sent to Jan McIntire-Strasburg via email (mcintire@slu.edu).  Please send your submissions by May 15, 2014.

Those sending in submissions for the Mark Twain Circle of America can email their proposals to Ann Ryan at ryanam@lemoyne.edu.

* You might also be interested in the 27th Annual AATH Humor Conference in Vincennes, Indiana… April 3-6, 2014… at the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy located on the campus of Vincennes University.

*Or you might be interested in the International Society for Humor Studies Conference.  The 2014 ISHS Conference will be held from July 7 to July 11, 2014 on the campus of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Jim’s Dilemma

Your pa, he says to me that I need to come and help you understand why he had to go away, why he had to join the Missouri Colored Regiment.[i]  Says I was good at explaining and good at leaving my own self, and so I might as well be the one.  But you knows what your pa’s doing, don’t you?  You knows that he joined up so’s you all be free when he come back.  That’s cause you listen good, child.

Your pa, he never did understand, though, about why I went away.  Never did let me tell the whole story.  Always said I loved that white boy better’n him.  Never did understand.  But that’s my fault, I reckon.  Or maybe that’s just the way it goes.

Ole missus, that’s Miss Watson as was, she moved in with her sister, see?  And I hads to go with her; didn’t have no choice, though that meant I was 20 miles or more from your nanny and your pa and your aunt ‘Lizabeth what as died before you was born, 20 miles instead a just a few.  Used to come see them most every night, but after that—  Johnny—your pa—had to be the man of the house whiles I was gone—much as slavery lets you to be a man.  But love that white boy more’n him?   Huhn!  I tell yah—first words I says to that white boy, I says

 “Name’s not ‘nigger,’ boy.  Name’s Jim.  And I lay I’ll teach you to know it.”  Those was the first words I said to him.

Huh?  You’re right.  Told you, you’s a smart boy, and I admit it.  Them’s the first words I thought when that little white trash moved in and got dressed up in all the fancy clothes and done called me out my name though he just crawled right outten a hogshead his own self.  What I said aloud was “Yassuh, young massa?”  Man’s gotta know where the corn pone comes from.  It’s a tough world, it is, child, and don’t you forget it.

The boy weren’t so bad, though, as white folks go.  Fact is, I believe he had a good heart in there when it weren’t messed up and confused.  He told some of the story round about here, when that Tom Sawyer would let him talk.  And Huck, he told the truth so far as he could, I guess.  As he says, we all gots some stretchers in us.  But he was the only white man I ever know that even tried to keep his word to old Jim.  Only white man I ever know that thought a word was a something to keep, when talking to a black man.  Most of them’d sooner lie than look at you.  But you know, they don’t really like looking now, do they?

Huck, he weren’t so bad, though.  And he did try.  But with a dad like his’n and that Tom Sawyer always raisin’ Cain and messing with his head, calling him chucklehead when he got a fair point an’ such truck as that.  Huck never had no chance.  But he tried, and I got to give him credit for trying.  He was a good boy, take it all in all.

I done told you the story lots a times, about the time I runned.[ii]  Had to.  You know that.  The devil he got in me.  And old missus, she got scared.  Was gonna sell me down to Orleans, she was.  Never woulda seen your pa or ‘Lizabeth again.   I lit out mighty quick, made a good plan, too, but there’s people everywhere, on account of they thought Huck done been killed.   They was crawling all over both sides of the river.

I took my chance in the dark—you knows the story—how I hid in the driftwood, then latched onto the raft.  I needed to get far away, and I knowed it.  Heard all day from where I was hiding in that cooper’s shack about how Huck‘s killed on the Illinois side.  Knowed oncet they realized I was gone, they’d blame me for it.  Ridden by witches and with the devil’s own coin, they’d never believe it weren’t me, and they’d know I’d lay for Illinois.  Where else a man going to go?   It’d be like that black Joe in Boone County what killed that white trash with de axe, or that Teney in Callaway that they said killed that woman.[iii]  I’d never a seen the inside of a jail.

But I didn’t have no luck.  When the man come toward me with the lantern, there weren’t no use for it; I struck out for the island.   Had to lay low, ‘cause they was hunting Huck, and pretty soon, they was hunting me, too.  Couldn’t get much to eat.  Knew I needed to swim for the Illinois shore afore I was too weak from hunger, but they was hunting too hard.  And push come to shove, I kept thinking ‘bout your pa, and about poor little ‘Lizabeth, and somehow I couldn’t leave.  My head was just a busting and so was my heart.  Lit myself a fire to keep warm, made sure it didn’t smoke, but I kept seeing ‘Lizabeth’s eyes looking into mine.  Wrapped the blanket round my head to shut them out, but that didn’t make no matter.  Finally done fall asleep, though.

First thing I saw when I wakes up was that there dead white boy, big as life.  Thought he was a ghost at first, I did, come to haint old Jim, who only tried to help him when his pa come back.  Old Jim, who never told the missus bout all the times he sneaked out in the night to cat about.  Slaves never have no luck—you remember that, child—it’ll save you lots a disappointment in this life.  But no ghost ever blim-blammed like that, and so I knowed it was really him, his own self.  That child could talk the hind leg off a donkey, he could.  I kept quiet and let him run on, thinking mighty hard.

He had a gun, see.  And people thought he was dead.  Or was that just one a him and Tom Sawyer’s jokes again?  It weren’t the first time white folks thought they was dead, though this’d be the first time a body had cared that Huck was gone, first time in his whole life.  But there he was with a gun, a-chatterin and a-jammerin on.  Was he a-hunting me?  Hunting old Jim after he had his lark and made folks think he was dead?

Then he busts into my thoughts.  Tells me to make up the fire and get breakfast, just like he owned me.  That boy playing me, I thinks to myself, but I gots to know.  Maybe he’s just a-hunting.  So I axed him some questions, and found out he been there since the night he was killed.  So whatever he’s a-playing at, he ain’t a-hunting old Jim.  I tells him I’ll make a fire if he’ll hunt us up something for to cook on it.

I was expecting him to come back with some squirrel or some mud-turkles or such truck, or maybe a rabbit iffen I was lucky, and I hoped he had a knife with that gun, but I looked round for a sharp stone, just in case.  When he come back, he come back with all kinds of stuff, a catfish and sugar and bacon and coffee and dishes, if that don’t beat all.  I was set back something considerable, ‘cause I knew right away what it meant.  Continue reading →

Editor’s Chair: Catching up with the American Humor Studies Association

Tracy Wuster, Vice President–American Humor Studies Association

The American Humor Studies Association has been active this past year working to promote humor studies as an academic field, and we are excited to share our work with you.  Last year, we sponsored excellent panels at MLA and ALA.  Many of our members presented on humor and Mark Twain at the 7th International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, which featured an excellent keynote speech by Peter Kaminsky on the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.  We also published two issues of Studies in American Humor in the last year, as well as our newsletter, “To Wit.”  This year sees the transition from Ed Piacentino to Judith Yaross Lee as editor of the journal, with myself as book review editor.  Look for an interview with Judith on “Humor in America” soon and an excerpt from her wonderful new book, Twain’s Brand.

The AHSA is excited for our upcoming work for the next year:

*First, the AHSA is very excited to announce the creation of the “Jack Rosenbalm Prize for American Humor.” Jack was the first managing editor, and then editor, of Studies in American Humor and a strong promoter of humor studies as a field.  He was awarded the Charlie Award in 1993.

Awarded tor the best article on American humor by a pre-tenure scholar, graduate student, adjunct professor, or independent scholar published in (or accepted for publication in) a peer-reviewed academic journal.  Articles published in 2013 are eligible for the inaugural award.  Please submit by 12/15/2013 to: ahsahumor@gmail.com

See link above for more information.

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*The AHSA is working on Calls for Papers for three conferences next year–ALA, MLA, and our Quadrennial conference, which will be in New Orleans in December 2014.  Look for the CFP for that and for MLA soon.  The ALA call is looking for abstracts in the following topics:

1. “Political Humor from Franklin to Colbert”

2. “Teaching American Humor” (A Roundtable)

3. “Graphic Humor in American Periodicals” (Co-Sponsored with the Research Society for American Periodicals)

See our announcements page for more information.

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*The AHSA is  also co-sponsoring a Works in Progress symposium with the Mark Twain Circle of America in February.  This working conference is intended to advance publication of work on American Humor, Mark Twain, and related work in progress. Individuals papers and group symposia will be offered relating to work in progress which will be presented by participants and discussed and developed with the help of attending scholars.

Where:    The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Massachusetts (http://www.redlioninn.com/)

When:     Thursday-Saturday February 20-22

Information at the announcements page above.

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Call for Papers:  MAD Magazine and Its Legacies  Special issue of Studies in American Humor, Fall 2014

Since 1952, MAD Magazine has regaled humor lovers and inspired humor producers in many media. Studies in American Humor, the journal of the American Humor Studies Association, invites submission of scholarly papers devoted to MAD Magazine and its legacies for a special issue of the journal appearing in the fall of 2014, coedited by John Bird (Winthrop University) and Judith Yaross Lee (Ohio University).

Topics might include, but are not limited to: *humor, verbal and/or visual  *subversive humor  *satire (as technique, analysis of individual examples or themes, etc.)  *parody (as technique, analysis of individual examples or themes, etc.)  *individual artists and writers  *regular and occasional features  *one or mode recurrent themes (politics, technology, parenthood, suburbia)  *cultural impact and legacies  *influence, general and specific (including direct influence on individuals and genres)  *reception

Potential contributors should send queries and abstracts (500-750 words) by October 1, 2013 or complete manuscripts by June 1, 2014.  Email queries and abstracts to studiesinamericanhumor@ohio.edu.  General information on Studies in American Humor and submission guidelines are available athttp://studiesinamericanhumor.org/.

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*You can join the American Humor Studies Association by mail or electronically.  Information on joining can be found on our website.  The AHSA website contains a section for syllabus, assignments, and information on teaching American humor.  We welcome any additions to this resources.  “Humor in America” will be running a piece on using podcasts to teach dialect humor, prepared by our Executive Director–Jan McIntire Strasburg–in the next few weeks.  Please contact me–Tracy Wuster (wustert@gmail.com)–if you have humor pedagogy resources you would like to share.

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*Finally, the AHSA is excited to announce that Studies in American Humor will soon be included in JStor in its full run from 1976 through our recent issues.  JSTor is kindly scanning past issues and hopes to include the journal in its next update.  Keep an eye out.

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One Tan, Many Memories: Elmira Mark Twain Conference 2013

Breaking a sweat

Breaking a sweat

It was seven years ago. June 13, 2006. After watching the Mark Twain Forum rage for a week about a neocon skeleton’s consideration as the next Mark Twain, I offered no additional comment as my first contribution to the listserv, but a link (no longer active) identifying direct passages of her work lifted from others. I’m not controversial, just contextual. Within an hour I received an email from my father, copying my text with a forward:

Be careful what you say the walls have ears.

Long before the NSA, but steeped in George Orwell, I was dumbfounded. Not by the sentiment but the speed of reaction. Where did—How was—Who? My dad does not participate in socialist academia. He appreciates baseball, Goldwater republicanism, and the mafia (don’t ask)—all of them stoically. And John Wayne in one particular movie. That’s it. So whence came my inoffensive copy with such haste?

The answer came from mom—my father’s publicist—who revealed my network of expansive relatives connected an interest in Mark Twain with that of a family friend. My dad’s twin brother knew a guy named Larry. Larry grew up working in my grandfather’s tool and die preaching progressive reform during the summer of love while my father supported the Vietnam War with the Young Republicans. Larry was part of the Forum, recognized the last name—a rarity outside of Brazil—and forwarded the message to my uncle with a “Hey, is he one of yours?” My uncle turned it around to my father, and suddenly I was worried about over-sharing.

Clearly that didn’t last. I cut out the middlemen and contacted Larry, and thus began a three-year direct correspondence about Mark Twain that finally put a face to liberal sentiment when we both attended the Sixth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, held in Elmira, New York.

Continue reading →

Editor’s Chair: Mark Twain Summer Camp

Tracy Wuster

Mark Twain scholars from all over the world are packing their scholarly papers, writing their names in their underwear (in marker, please), and getting ready to head to “Mark Twain Summer Camp”–better known as the 7th International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies.

Mark Twain elmira new york summer camp 7th international

Held every four years in Elmira, New York–the location of the summer home of Clemens’s in-laws, and where he wrote many of his best known works–the conference is undoubtedly the best conference in existence.  Ask anyone.

Four years ago, as a weak-kneed, but semi-well-funded graduate student–the conference was a paradise of Twain studies and conviviality.  The conference was where I first met Sharon McCoy, Jeffrey Melton, and ABE (who went by a different name, back then).  Now, as an unfunded Ph.D., the conference still portends to be a paradise, but a costly one.

Mark Twain statue elmira new york,

In addition to high-quality papers on Mark Twain and related subjects, the conference features themed dinners, fancy speakers, Twain scholars singing songs, and storytelling.  Hal Holbrook telling stories on the original sight of Mark Twain’s study was an event we will all remember for the remainder of our lives (you can read more about the last conference and listen to Holbrook speaking here).

Part One of Holbrook’s story

This year promises to be equally exciting, if the program is to be believed.  The conference theme celebrates the 150th anniversary of the use of “Mark Twain”–a fact that will be marked by an exhibition of material from his western years:

“He used it for the first time in the Territorial Enterprise in Nevada,” said Barbara Snedecor, director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies. “This exhibition kind of highlights those years in the West and that moment when he first chose that pen name.

“People are coming from very far away — China, Japan, Germany, Europe and all over the United States,” Snedecor said. “About 175 people will be there. It’s open to the public too. Some of the papers are of great interest.” (source)

I would hope that some of those papers of interest would be Sharon McCoy providing keen insights on “Tricks and Tools: Practical Jokes, the “Evasion,” and the Limits of Love.” Jeffrey Melton discoursing on “Mark Twain and the Legacy of the Pastoral Dream”, ABE holding forth on ““Dear Sir”: A Post-Structuralist Impression of Charles F. Browne’s Influence on Mark Twain,” or me stumbling through ” “Mark Twain”: The Humorist.”

Mark Twain statue elmira

Continue reading →

Soul searching on demand

“Which is mshutterstock_101939362ore ethical:  sticking to one’s principles or being willing to compromise?” Saturday, June 8th at 7:00 p.m., I’ll be onstage at the Regional Cultural Center in New York Mills, alongside three other “Great American Think-off” finalists, to publicly debate this philosophical question. John Forde, host of the PBS show, “Mental Engineering,” will serve as the moderator. Whether I’ll get pummeled or walk away with the gold medal and tongue-in-cheek title  of “America’s Greatest Thinker” doesn’t matter. It’s an honor to participate, and it’s all in good fun!

Naturally, this deadline-driven reflection and contemplation brings to mind, a poem . . . .

The Whole Mess … Almost

I ran up six flights of stairs
to my small furnished room
opened the window
and began throwing out
those things most important in life

First to go, Truth, squealing like a fink:
“Don’t! I’ll tell awful things about you!”
“Oh yeah? Well, I’ve nothing to hide … OUT!”
Then went God, glowering & whimpering in amazement:
“It’s not my fault! I’m not the cause of it all!” “OUT!”
Then Love, cooing bribes: “You’ll never know impotency!
All the girls on Vogue covers, all yours!”
I pushed her fat ass out and screamed:
“You always end up a bummer!”
I picked up Faith Hope Charity
all three clinging together:
“Without us you’ll surely die!”
“With you I’m going nuts! Goodbye!”
Then Beauty … ah, Beauty—
As I led her to the window
I told her: “You I loved best in life
… but you’re a killer; Beauty kills!”
Not really meaning to drop her
I immediately ran downstairs
getting there just in time to catch her
“You saved me!” she cried
I put her down and told her: “Move on.”

Went back up those six flights
went to the money
there was no money to throw out.
The only thing left in the room was Death
hiding beneath the kitchen sink:
“I’m not real!” It cried
“I’m just a rumor spread by life … ”
Laughing I threw it out, kitchen sink and all
and suddenly realized Humor
was all that was left—
All I could do with Humor was to say:
“Out the window with the window!”

                  

                                         — Gregory Corso, 1973 —
Here’s to the grassroots philosopher and beat poet in all of us!

(Wish me luck.)

Editor’s Chair: Carol Burnett Wins Mark Twain Prize & Other News

Tracy Wuster

Congratulations to Carol Burnett for winning the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.  According to the Kennedy Center:

The Mark Twain Prize recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Upon being notified of the award, Burnett noted:

“I can’t believe I’m getting a humor prize from the Kennedy Center. It’s almost impossible to be funnier than the people in Washington.”

The ceremony will take place on October 20, with tickets starting at $1000.  In the meantime, enjoy one of Burnett’s best performances:

In other humor news:

*This week is the annual American Literature Association conference.  Please join the American Humor Studies Association for the following panels:

Session 5-G (Thursday 3:00)
Humor in American Periodicals (Great Republic 7th Floor)
 
Session 7-E (Friday 8:10)
Reading and Teaching Humorous Texts (St George D 3rd Floor)
 
Session 8-O (Friday 9:40)
Business Meeting (Parliament 7th Floor)
 
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And join the Mark Twain Circle of America for the following panels:

Session 15-C (Saturday 9:30)

Mark Twain: Iconic Texts Reconsidered (Essex North Center 3rd Floor)

Session 17-C (Saturday 12:30)

Mark Twain and History (Essex North Center 3rd Floor)

Session 18-M (Saturday 2:00)

Business Meeting: The Mark Twain Circle of America (North Star 7th Floor)

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*For panels on Kurt Vonnegut and others, see the schedule here.  Additionally, there has traditionally been a reception on Saturday.  I believe that 2-4 of the writers for this site will be there.

*A number of the authors of this page will also be at the 7th International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies at the beginning of August.  The registration and program information can be found at the Center for Mark Twain Studies site.  Even if you are not a scholar, this conference is well worth the trip.  This year features a screening of a new documentary on Hal Holbrook, a keynote by Peter Kaminsky of the Mark Twain Prize, a closing picnic at Quarry Farm, and paper presentations by Sharon McCoy, Jeffrey Melton, ABE, and myself.

*Speaking of awards, did you know about the James Thurber Prize for American Humor, given annually for the best humorous writing of that year?

*And speaking of humor writing, if you are a student and in need of a term paper on American humor, look no further than this lovely writing, available for the bargain price of $15.90.

Third, a frosty streak of humor runs done American literary works from early times to present. In many cases, a dash of table salt humor saves a ripe penning from becoming in any case sentimental. American humor tends to be exaggerated rather than subtle. It reflects the peoples cleverness to laugh at themselves during the approximately voiceless times.

In these “approximately voiceless times,” how can you pass up such a bargain, and sure to get a D- or below!

*Ellie Kemper asks, “Can men be funny?

*Did you see, “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise“?

*Have you been watching YouTube Comedy Week?  Anyone want to write a review for us?

*Only 5 days until Arrested Development!

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