The Lighthearted Philosophers’ Society is a pluralistic, engaging school of inquiry--including scholars from across disciplines--who study philosophies of funniness in a serious way.
The History of the Lighthearted Philosophers’ Society
Our Society is a school of thought uniquely suited to the study of comedy and humor; its founding was itself a joke. A group of scholars led by the Society’s first president, Dave Monroe, decided to take a break from the usual gravity of academia by hosting a spoof conference dedicated exclusively to funny papers. In 2006, on the porch of a bar in St. Petersburg, FL these scholars held the first meeting of the LPS – all in the name of good fun. The Society continued to meet annually, and although the papers began to focus as much on Philosophies of the Funny as well as Funny Philosophy, the meetings continued to promote merriment as much as academic investment.
The reputation of the conference – always held on a beach in a sunny climate – spread among not only philosophers, but members of various disciplines concerned with funniness. The core group of annual attendees grew and began attracting more senior scholars. These new patrons included Joseph Ellin and Richard Richards, whose generous donations of time, funds, and rigor enabled the Society to flourish. Gradually the Society that had begun as a joke became a well-known working group for the philosophy of funniness.
To date, the Society includes a fully-fledged coterie of officers and a robust annual conference full of both new and repeat attendees. Our membership has published two field-defining books (Richard Richards’s A Philosopher Looks at the Sense of Humor and Steve Gimbel’s Isn’t that Clever: A Philosophical Account of Humor and Comedy) and members have been featured in a special edition of the Florida Philosophical Review dedicated to the LPS’s work. The Society’s theories have gained great ground, and they have done so while adhering firmly to its emphasis on lighthearted hilarity.
Humorist E.B. White once quipped that “Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process.” In short, studying funniness can make funny things un-funny, destroying that which is being studied. The Lighthearted Philosophers’ Society answers this conundrum by insisting that philosophies of the funny should be studied in funny ways. As such, we stick to our joking roots by having fun as we inquire and enjoying to our utmost the liberation that comes with our merry ruminations.