Cal State Long Beach conference looks at humor in our daily lives

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laughter-humor-conferenceThe 21st International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) Conference will be held at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) from Wednesday, June 17, to Saturday, June 20.

The ISHS is a scholarly and professional organization dedicated to the advancement of humor research, explained conference organizer Amy Bippus, an associate professor of communication studies at CSULB. Many of the society’s members are university and college faculty members in the arts and humanities, biological and social sciences and education. The society also includes professionals in the fields of counseling, management, nursing, journalism and theater.

“We’re bringing together scholars and professionals from 16 countries,” said Bippus who attended the previous ISHS conference in Spain. “This conference will center on what makes something humorous and the role of humor in all areas of our lives. That is the common thread that spreads out across all the different topics.”

On Wednesday, June 17, a pre-conference workshop will be held from 2-5 p.m. on the topic of “Teaching with Humor” with Mary Kay Morrison, author of “Using Humor to Maximize Learning.” In the evening, there will be mixer at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, at which time the ISHS presidential address will take place.

On Thursday, June 18, registration will begin again at 8 a.m. The day’s programming will consist of paper, poster and plenary sessions from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. At 7 p.m. in the Nugget, there will be a Comedy Contest, featuring the comic talents of ISHS members and the CSULB community.

On Friday, June 19, paper and plenary sessions will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the annual member meeting held in the afternoon. On Saturday, June 20, the conference closes with a brunch beginning at 8:30 a.m. and featuring guest speaker Joel Stein, a writer for Time magazine and the Los Angeles Times.

Brunch will be followed by optional excursion to Southern California attractions including a tour of the J. Paul Getty Museum and a grand tour of Los Angeles. More information is available by accessing the conference’s website at

Panel topics will offer an encyclopedic review of all that is humorous – or not. “One of our best represented topics is gelotophobia, or the fear of being laughed at,” Bippus said. “Other topics will include humor and religion, humor and the workplace, humor as it relates to mental and physical health, how children develop their sense of humor and how humor can help us deal with the impact of illness and mortality. A number of presenters will address how humor works across divisions of race, nationality, sexuality and gender.

“We will have experts who will demonstrate software that develops jokes, and a panel of stand-up comedians who will discuss how they develop their routines and hone their timing,” she continued. “And, there will be ample coverage of humor in pop culture, covering everything from TV series like ‘The Office’ to ‘The Colbert Report’ to the films of Alfred Hitchcock.”

Bippus also noted that the humor conference’s strength is its universality. “Everyone has an inherent interest in humor, and there’s something here to interest everyone,” she pointed out. “If you’re a scholar, you’ll be interested in the scholarship. If you just like to laugh, there will be people who can offer insight into why you laugh. There will be someone with software that can help you write a joke! You can talk with professional comics and take away something that will improve your timing. Anybody who has ever described themselves as having a sense of humor will find something here. And for those who don’t have a sense of humor, come and try to get one.”

For registration or other information on the 21st International ISHS Humor Conference, go to the Web site at

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