The Joke's on Me

What good is a humorist in a world where everybody's funny?

Illustration by Tomasz Walenta for TIME

For all of history, humor has been wielded by unattractive, skill-less men in their desperate effort to reproduce. Do you think there were any handsome court jesters who were also really good jousters and lute soloists? To answer that question, try to remember the guys from high school who could juggle.

But now everyone has to be funny. The new vocabulary of texts, tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram pictures and YouTube videos--the entire reductive discourse of the information era--seems to require that all information be conveyed in jokes. That's because jokes are the most memorable packet of information we have that doesn't...

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