“…it’s a strange time but humor is definitely a part of it.”
Father and Daughter duo Ian Frazier and Cora Frazier are both humorists who write for The New Yorker magazine as well as a host of other prominent publications. On Tuesday April 4th they will join Patty Limerick for a discussion on applying humor to contemporary issues that often carry strong emotional and political charge.
Ian Frazier says humor can help people navigate and understand difficult times in society. “It’s a way of talking about things that otherwise you might become overwrought and be unable to talk about…it’s a way of making sense out of it.” Ian Frazier says that today humor has defused into all sections of the country and all sections of the political scene. “You have intentional humor where people are trying to make sense of things that happen and then you have semi intentional or unintentional humor that you might find in something like the president’s tweets. So you have all different kinds of levels of irony and laughing at what’s going on and not knowing if it is funny or are we laughing when we should be doing something else. So it’s a strange time but humor is definitely a part of it.”
Cora Frazier had her first piece published in the New Yorker in 2012. She says a problem she faces now is that there’s almost too much material to write about. “I think when I was starting out to write comedy it was a way to talk about things. An early piece that I did came out around the time that the revelations that the National Security Agency and the spying on Americans, which I found really upsetting, and I wrote a comedy piece about it and that was a way of dealing with that. But then as the news becomes more and more alarming it’s a little bit harder to find what’s funny in it.”
Cora Frazier says the current political climate also creates challenges where people who agree with the political message of a piece will appreciate it but not necessarily find it funny, a term that SNL writer Jim Downey has dubbed “clapter.”
“I think as humorists we always want to be careful that people are laughing and that we’re not just speaking to people who agree with us and saying “oh we don’t like x and y” and everyone says “yay” but that there’s actually something funny there, there’s something unexpected, it’s a new take.”
Cora and Ian Frazier will receive the Fools for a Day award at the Old Main Chapel on the CU Boulder campus at 6.30pm on Tuesday April 4th.