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Ken Jennings on the past, present and future of comedy

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Ken Jennings, author of “Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture.”

Ken Jennings, author of “Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture.”

Credit:

Faith Jennings

A decade after Ken Jennings finished his record-breaking "Jeopardy!" run, Paste Magazine named his Twitter account one of the best comedy feeds of 2014. His love of trivia and jokes comes together in his latest book, “Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture.”

Jennings talks to Kurt Andersen about the history of humor, tracing the roots of “Saturday Night Live” back to Ancient Greece. He also explores how social media has made comedy so ubiquitous, it’s starting to rewire the way we think.

“I noticed that in my own brain I don't take as much pleasure from jokes anymore,” Jennings says. “And I think it's because there's just too many of them. The hedonic treadmill speeds up and you need that low baseline of comedy to even feel normal.”

They also discuss the future of comedy, and whether or not computers could one day be programmed to have a sense of humor.

“There is plenty of artificial intelligence research on jokes,” Jennings says. “And computers are still terrible at it.”  

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