Speaking Topics


Talks range from 20 minutes to 3 hours (though, oddly, none that are exactly
1 hour 12 minutes) and include copious comedy clips featuring everyone from
Chaplin to Schumer, Keaton to Key & Peele, the Marx Brothers to Monty Python.


For General Audiences


(more info from clickable graphic or blue title)


Comedy from Ancient Greece to Modern Family.
“Anthropology of Ha!” #1,2)

This is the Golden Age of political satire. But
does it matter? (Video:
“The Shame of Satire”)


Every joke – comedy in miniature –
contains all the principles of humor.
(Video: “How Comedy Works” #5,6)

SNL, Gilbert & Sullivan, Yankovic, Newman, Tom Lehrer,
Monty Python, 
South Park, C. Berry, B. Bunny and more.
“The World of Musical Satire”)
“Insightful and hilarious” – The Jewish Journal

The Jewish Question
Is there a connection between comedy and Jews?
What are you, meshuga?

The Painful Relationship Between Humor and Horror
Are they complete opposites or basically the same thing?


How comedy uses and abuses the body.
(Video: “How Comedy Works” #3,4)


He got laughs and gasps; he was no philosopher
but that doesn’t mean he had no philosophy:
a deep dive into The Great Stone Face.


The origins, purpose and meaning of laughter.
(Video: “Anthropology of Ha!” #3,4,5)

Why Comedy Matters

What comedy means, how comedy means, and
how to achieve transcendence through fart jokes.



The Theology of Ha!
The relationship between comedy and the divine.
(Yes, there is one.)

(David’s essay “The F-Word” appears in “Faith:
Essays from Believers, Agnostics and Atheists”


Women Aren’t Funny
Like Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham,
Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Samantha Bee?
Men who still say that aren’t sexist – they’re stupid.
A look at the history of women in comedy.


A Brief History of  Timing: The Story of Stand-Up


Allen / Pryor / Martin: A Comedian Colloquium
How each changed comedy.



Primarily for Professional/Academic Audiences




Including why “k” is the funniest consonant
and why there’s a “Rule of 3.”
(Video: “How Comedy Works”)

Jokes reveal the role played in comedy by pattern recogni-
tion, surprise, tension and resolution, and misdirection.
(Video: “How Comedy Works” #5,6)


Comedy vs. Drama

What’s the difference? The answer’s not so simple.
(Video: “How Comedy Works” #3)


The Philosophy of Ha!
From Plato and Aristotle to Mel Brooks and Steve Martin.


The Biology of Ha!
What science tells us about comedy.
(Video: “How Comedy Works” #2)


Comedy vs. Logic
The roles of Logic, Nonsense and Meaning.



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