What Can We Laugh About?

Event Date: 
Thursday, September 15, 2022 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Event Location: 
ASU California Center
Presented by: 
Zócalo Public Square, ASU Gammage

It sometimes feels like we will never laugh again, and that levity’s moment has passed. But comedians have always grappled with difficult topics in difficult times, helping the rest of us better understand ourselves—and let off a little steam in the process. Comedians dare to go where others can’t. Satire, stand-up, and skits can take on the topics that most divide us: race, nationality, gender, religion, class. What is the relationship between dissent and comedy? Is there civic virtue in laughter? Are there any issues that it is “too soon” to joke about? Should comedians around the world draw inspiration from American humor? And can comedy break through apathy, discontent, and division in a democracy under pressure—serving as release valve, remedy, and respite?

Political satirist Bassem Youssef, and playwright, actor, and performance artist Kristina Wong visit Zócalo to discuss the current comedic zeitgeist, and why the joke can be mightier than the sword.

Zócalo invites our in-person audience to continue the conversation with our speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary drinks.

This event is a part of Experience ASU, a month-long series marking Arizona State University’s expansion in California.