BOOK DATA: David Humphrey, The Time of Laughter: Comedy and the Media Cultures of Japan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2023. $85.00 cloth; $39.95 paper; $39.95 e-book. 304 pages.

Every study of comedy and humor has an important choice to make at the outset: What, exactly, are we talking about? Are we talking about a genre, a cultural practice, a mode of expression, a social behavior, or an affect? Is it—whatever “it” may be—fundamentally conservative, bringing about social cohesion by forcing everyone to laugh together; or is it revolutionary, bringing about the rupture of conventions and norms? David Humphrey’s new work, The Time of Laughter: Comedy and the Media Cultures of Japan, taps into these ambivalent and multivalent qualities of comedy while smartly shaping the discussion around media form: Japanese television from its earliest years in the 1950s to the present, when it has faded in prominence...

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