David HumphreyAug 15, 2023
The Time of Laughter
Comedy and the Media Cultures of Japan
University of Michigan Press 2023
David Humphrey’s The Time of Laughter: Comedy and the Media Cultures of Japan (U Michigan Press, 2023) examines the roles of mediated laughter in the media and cultural history of postwar Japan, with a strong focus on the temporality of laughter. As the book shows, comedy has been central to Japanese entertainment from the age of television to the age of social media, identifying the 1980s as a transformative decade. Humphrey’s narrative is particularly attentive to the ambivalent functions of laughter as both unifier and divider. Here, his attention to the gendering of laughter is particularly illuminating. The Time of Laughter is a welcome academic intervention to a critical but, at least in the English-language literature, largely overlooked aspect of the history and culture of Japan over the past seven decades.
Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages.