Events & exhibitions
event • Conferences & Symposia

To Laugh Is Human: Gender and Comedy

Laughter Graphic Radcliffe

Are we entering a new age of comedy? As once marginalized voices take center stage, fresh comedic genres are challenging assumptions about who and what can be funny. Join us as comedians, academics, and activists share their surprising insights into gender and comedy and how laughter can deepen and transform our sense of humanity.

Harvard Radcliffe Institute is grateful to the alumni board of the Harvard Lampoon, which initially proposed the theme of the conference to us. The program will coincide with their celebration of 50 years of women on the Lampoon.

Harvard Radcliffe Institute gratefully acknowledges the Perrin Moorhead Grayson and Bruns Grayson Dean’s Leadership Fund for Academic Ventures, which is supporting this event.

A Funny Thing Happened in Comedy (Harvard Gazette, 4/5/22)

Event Videos

Laughter Graphic Radcliffe


  • Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School; professor of history, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and chair, Presidential Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery

Gender and Comedy: Why Now?

  • Patricia Marx, staff writer, the New Yorker
  • Alexis Wilkinson, writer and comedian
  • Jeff Wright, writer, Late Night with Seth Myers
  • Moderator: Glenda Carpio, chair, Department of English; Harvard College Professor; and professor of English and of African and African American Studies, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Laughter Graphic Radcliffe

Gender and Comedy: What We’ve Learned—Unexpectedly

  • Rebecca Drysdale, comedian and writer, including Key & Peele
  • Scott Saul, professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley; author of Becoming Richard Pryor (HarperCollins, 2014)
  • Alice Wu, film director and screenwriter, including Saving Face and The Half of It
  • Moderator: Michelle Robinson, associate professor, Department of American Studies, University of North Carolina

Laughter Graphic Radcliffe

Gender and Comedy: What We Hope to Learn

What don’t we yet understand about gender and comedy? What do we still want/need to learn? What does the future hold?

  • Lynn Harris, founder and CEO, GOLD Comedy
  • Sophie Scott, professor of cognitive neuroscience, University College London
  • Reggie Watts, comedian, actor, beatboxer, musician, and bandleader for The Late Late Show with James Corden
  • Moderator: Daphne A. Brooks, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Music, Yale University 

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