Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Cathy Reed

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2021 Jack L Viani


Comedy and humor have been an integral part of how humans communicate since our inception (Karl, 1989). People can find situations or jokes funny for a plethora of reasons, from the joke being unexpected, to finding irony in a situation, humor knows no bounds in our reality. Humor generates many positive reactions for humans, from positive mental stimulation (Yuki, et al., 2019) to temporary physical benefits (Rod, 2001). Some of the well known benefits of humor are that it can reduce anxiety (Yovetich, et al., 1990), reduce stress (Bennett, 2003), and provide positive physical reactions like muscle relaxation and increased blood circulation (Martin, 2004). For these fantastic reasons, humans have integrated humor into many facets of communication, from physical (Noël, 2009) to artistic (Wick, 2001) and everywhere in between. Comedy has proven itself in our culture, and all cultures through-out history, to break down political, racial, and even gender divides. With many utilizations of humor, the range of professionals who study humor is large, from philosophers, to stand up comedians, to neuropsychologists. Because the brain processes humor differently than normal language (Mobbs, et al., 2003), neuroscientists are able to examine and understand the neural pathways each type of humor can travel in the brain. As a result, the neural network which processes humor in the brain gives insight as to why our brain responds to humor with physical and chemical rewards.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.