How laughter shapes contemporary Japanese media
From broadcast to social media, comedy plays a prominent role in Japan’s cultural landscape and political landscape. The Time of Laughter explores how comedy grew out of the early days of television to become a central force in shaping Japanese media over the past half-century. Comedy and its impact, David Humphrey argues, established a “time of laughter” in the media of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in Japan. Through masterful interrogation of Japanese televisual archives and media discourse, Humphrey demonstrates that the unique temporality of laughter has had a profound role in the cultural atmosphere of Japan’s recent past. Laughter both complemented and absorbed the profound tensions and contradictions that emerged in Japanese television. Joyous and cacophonous, reaffirming and subverting, laughter simultaneously alienated and unified viewers. Through its exploration of the influence of comedy and the culture of laughter, The Time of Laughter presents a vibrant new take on Japan’s recent media history.
David Humphrey is Assistant Professor of Japanese and Global Studies at Michigan State University.
Listen: Author interview on New Books Network | August 15, 2023