Buddhism and Comedy

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Religion

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students (with Restrictions)

Buddhism and Comedy

Summer 2021

Taught By: Christopher Kelley

Section: A

CRN: 2345

Credits: 3

This summer intensive course will meet from June 7 to July 1. The Buddha and standup comedians agree: Life is suffering. Comedians like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Wanda Sykes and Dave Chappelle get guffaws by exploring dark, existential thoughts. Meanwhile, Larry David, Garry Shandling, and Tig Notaro have shown us how being awkward, neurotic, and dissatisfied creates fertile ground for laughter. It turns out dark comedy can serve as a great introduction to Buddhist concepts such as dukkha (“existential angst”) and anitya (“impermanence”). This course will explore that connection and show how much comedians have in common with Zen masters and Tibetan lamas. Some questions we'll explore: Why do we laugh at the human condition in one context and not the other? What is the relationship between Buddhist realism and dark comedy? And what can we learn about classic Buddhist texts by studying classic comedy bits? Students will encounter the foundational ideas of Buddhism through a close reading of Buddhist texts as well as commentarial literature on Buddhist hermeneutics from both the Tibetan and Japanese traditions, alongside stand-up comedy and comedy shows/movies. Students will make their own Buddhist interpretations of individual comedians and/or films for their final project. Guest lecturer: Matt Ruby. Matt Ruby is a standup comedian from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by Comedy Central MTV NBC/Seeso and FOX and his most recent special Feels Like Matt Ruby ("funny" according to The NY Times) is available on YouTube.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Religion (LREL)

Campus: Online (DL)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 22

Add/Drop Deadline: June 8, 2021 (Tuesday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: June 27, 2021 (Sunday)

Seats Available: No

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 2:36pm 10/26/2021 EDT

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

Times: 2:00pm - 5:10pm

Building: Online Course

Date Range: 6/7/2021 - 7/1/2021