Week Six :: July 27–August 2

What’s Funny? In Partnership with the National Comedy Center

Come learn and laugh with us as Chautauqua Institution again partners with the National Comedy Center for a week exploring how comedy changes us and, in turn, society.

  • Comedy can do more than hold up a mirror to our world; it can, in fact, change it. We look at the potential of comedy — particularly political comedy — to change minds and influence decision-making.
  • Among the topics to explore are: What does your sense of humor reveal about you? How can we be challenged by things we don’t find funny?
  • We look at the challenging intersection of free speech, political correctness, and humor, and what we can learn from that uncomfortable space.
10:45 a.m. Lectures

Morning Lectures

10:45 a.m., Monday-Friday, Amphitheater

Ideas and opinions are exchanged in an open, challenging atmosphere, and Chautauqua's knowledgeable audiences have the opportunity to participate in question-and-answer sessions at the conclusion of the lectures.


  • Monday, July 29, 2019 | 10:45am

    The Smothers Brothers

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    Tom and Dick Smothers, the groundbreaking Smothers Brothers, are the most enduring comedy duo in history, having performed together professionally since 1959.

    Location: Amphitheater


  • Tuesday, July 30, 2019 | 10:45am

    Frank Oz interviewed by Stephen J. Morrison

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    Director, producer, writer, Muppet performer and actor Frank Oz has directed a dozen feature films, created and performed many of the original Muppet characters with the famed Jim Henson and is the performer behind Jedi Master Yoda in all of the Star Wars films.

    Location: Amphitheater


  • Wednesday, July 31, 2019 | 10:45am

    James Geary

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    James Geary is the deputy curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and the author of Wit's End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It, in which he explores every facet of wittiness, and how wit is more than simply being funny.

    Location: Amphitheater