Speaking Topics




Talks range from 20 minutes to 3 hours (though, unfortunately, 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


(*click for more info)


The History of Ha!
Comedy from Ancient Greece to Modern Family.
“General Audiences” #1,2)

The Shame of Satire
This is the Golden Age of satire… but does satire actually have any effect?
“The Shame of Satire”)

The Secret Life of Jokes
Jokes – comedy in miniature – show how humor works.

The 15 Greatest Satirical Songs
From opera to rap; including Tom Lehrer, Saturday Night Live, Randy Newman,
Gilbert & Sullivan, Monty Python, Chuck Berry, “Weird Al” Yankovic, South Park.

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

Ha!/Aaah!  The Painful Relationship Between Humor and Horror

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

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

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.

Woody Allen / Richard Pryor / Steve Martin: A Comedian Colloquium

OucHa! Why Pain Is Hilarious (If It’s Someone Else’s)
How comedy uses and abuses the body.

Buster Keaton: Existential Slapstick

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”

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


Primarily for Professional/Academic Audiences


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

Comedy v. Drama
What’s the difference? The answer’s not so simple.
(Video: “Academic Audiences” #3)

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

The Secret Life of Jokes
Jokes reveal the role played in comedy by pattern
recognition, surprise, tension and resolution, and misdirection.
(Video: “Academic Audiences” #5)

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

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

Why Comedy?
The divinity of fart jokes.



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