When we joke with our friends, our coworkers and our family, it’s not just about hearing them laugh. More often than not we’re looking for something beyond laughter. We’re after acceptance, bonding, release, shaming… and sometimes even more. This week on State of the Human we’re investigating how people use joking to create new realities for themselves and the people around them.


We have six stories, exploring the way jokes, pranks, and even puns can change our lives. We’ll hear stories from stand up comedian Tig Notaro and humor theorist Marvin Diogenes, and we’ll travel from Stanford’s cafeterias to the presidential suite on Air Force One. We’ll hear stories about how jokes can help us and synchronize our minds, stare cancer in the face and make us question our humanity along with everything we take for granted. And also, we’ll laugh a lot.

Producers: Natacha Ruck and Nina Foushee

Featuring: Rosie La Puma, Jackson Roach, Nina Foushee, Miles S., Justine Beed, Charlie Mintz, Ken Grobe, Lora Kelley, Marvin Diogenes, David Demarest, Sam Roach, Jay Roach, the La Puma family, Claire Slattery, Nathaniel Nelson, Reggie Watts, and Tig Notaro.

Release Date: 8 April 2014


Music used during transitions: BLEO, Candlegravity, LASERS, Will Bangs

image via flickr



Intro story: The Joking Revolution

Marvin Diogenes explores how some comedians use jokes to change the world. 


Featuring: Marvin Diogenes

Music: Podington bear (Pretty Build, Fantasy and Movin On Up)

Image via Neebo



Story 1: Joking Material 

Justine Beed interviews comedian Tig Notaro about how turning hardships into joking material changed her life.


music: Origamibiro

Image via flickr



Story 2: The Android Among Us

A bizarre running joke makes Sam Roach worry that he might not be a human. Jackson Roach, his older brother, investigates.


Producer: Jackson Roach

Featuring: Sam Roach and Jay Roach

Music: Deef, Slowmotions, Chris Zabriskie

Image via flickr



Story 3: A Strange Kind of Love

Nina Foushee knows why she fell in love with comedian Reggie Watts: He saved her from her world. But falling for an absurdist is like finger painting on a jellyfish: confusing, messy, and a little painful.


Producer: Nina Foushee

Featuring: Reggie Watts

Music: Slowmotions, Chris Zabriskie, Nicolas Chientaroli Trio, Michal Hambourg

Image via flickr



Story 4: All Puns Intended

Join Rosie La Puma as she scours historical humor to try and find a “good” pun. Along the way, she discovers that these joking underdogs may have a hidden ability.


Producer: Rosie La Puma

Featuring: Julia, Cece, Debbie, Chris, Phil and Cyndy La Puma

and Sheila, Karen, Addison, Tynan, Gerardo, Bianca, Jackson and Connor

Music: Kevin McLeod (Batty McFaddin, Monkeys Spinning Monkeys, Pamgaea)

Simon Mathewson (Convergence Point)

Image via Rosie La Puma



Story 5: For all the Wrong Reasons 

Miles S., a producer for State of the Human sits with the former White House Communications Director for the 40th President of the United States. Together they discuss how presidents use jokes (and speech writers) to make you like them.


Producer: Miles S.

Featuring: David Demarest, Vice President of Public Affairs for Stanford University and Professor of Political Communications in the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Former White House Communications Director for the 40th President of the United States, George H.W. Bush.


Music: Modern Antiques, Thiaz Itch (Ghost n’ Goblins, Hailfire Peaks, Super Mario 2), Kevin MacLeod

Image via Wikipedia



Story 6: The Best Medicine 

We all know that sometimes practical jokes hurt. In our next story, we learn how they can also heal. Or can they?


Producer: Charlie Mintz and Ken Grobe

Featuring: Stanford Alumni Claire Slattery and Nathaniel Nelson

Music: Silence is Sexy, Person, Lulo