Time Essay: How to Raise the U.S. Mirth Rate

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." Thus spoke Dr. Seuss, and true enough. Novelist Erich Maria Remarque made a kindred point: "Not to laugh at the 20th century is to shoot yourself." Yet the sad fact is that mirth in the U.S. is neither what it once was nor what it might be. As early as 1968, in The Rise and Fall of American Humor, English Professor Jesse Bier solemnly declared that "we are in great part humorless as never before." Other humor experts, who cannily refuse to...

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