The Politics, Philosophy and Ethics of Comedy: It's No Laughing Matter

Ref: C3528687

Whilst laughter appears to be a universal human trait exactly what we laugh at is culturally and historically sensitive. What we laugh at, find funny or consider appropriate topics for humour are philosophically, ethically and politically loaded. With its roots in classical Greece 'comedy' as a genre began as the flip-side to tragedy. It is here also that 'satire' finds its origins. From slapstick, visual humour to word-play, joke formats, sketches, and stand-up comedy we will explore with a critical eye debates over free speech, bad vs. good taste, dark humour, improvisation as a way-of-life, the absurd/ surreal, stage 'death', comedy as social commentary, resistance and power reproduction. Students will be invited to discuss, analyse and possibly create/ perform comedy in a bid to better understand what makes something 'funny'.

Course aim

An introduction to comedy as a philosophical, ethical and political practice.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain at least one way comedy, philosophy, ethics and politics are linked
  • Examine one way in which comedy can be a philosophical, ethical or political practice
  • Use technical terms correctly

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • Bring a pen and paper if you wish to make notes, Maybe useful for some activities.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full Course information sheet

The Politics, Philosophy and Ethics of Comedy: It's No Laughing Matter


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing