International Society for Humor Studies

ISHS News and Newsletter


Recent News from the Society

The ISHS Newsletter—The Humorous Times

2015 ISHS Board Election

2015 ISHS Conference with a Special Reflection

2016 Book Discounts

The ISHS Scholarship Fund

Twenty Five Years of Developing a Community
of Humor Scholars
by Alleen & Don Nilsen

The ISHS Newsletter—The Humorous Times

From 1988 through Winter 2005, the ISHS Newsletter appeared as a separate section of the Society's journal, HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research. Its first two editors were Alleen Nilsen (Arizona State University), who served from 1988 through 2003, and Amy Carrell (University of Central Oklahoma), who served for 2004 and 2005.


In Fall 2005, Ralph Mueller (University of Fribourg) became the third editor of the ISHS Newsletter, and under his direction the ISHS Newsletter adopted a new name—The Humorous Times—and a new look. As an e-newsletter, The Humorous Times continues to report on international activities, but it also includes special features on humor research as well as squibs and short humorous writings. With the Fall 2012 Issue, The Humorous Times began to feature book reviews of recent publications in humor studies. The Humrous Times is currently produced through the Society's home base at Holy Names University.

Current ISHS members receive the the ISHS newsletter electronically and can access it online here on the News page of the ISHS website. Current ISHS members can also access past ISHS Newsletters in the Newsletter Archive also found on this page.


Click Here for the Fall 2015 Issue of The Humorous Times.

2015 ISHS Executive Board Election
Every two years, the International Society for Humor Studies holds an election for ISHS President and for two new Members-at-Large to the ISHS Executive Board. The new ISHS President will serve for two years, from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017, and will take over from Larry Ventis (College of William and Mary, USA), who will continue on the ISHS Board as the immediate Past President. The new Members-at-Large will replace Moira Marsh (Indiana University, USA) and Graeme Ritchie (University of Aberdeen, Scotland) and who have served on the ISHS Board since January 2012. The new Board Members will serve for four years from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019.

Balloting for the 2015 Election opened on November 14 and closed on December 23, 2015. Delia Chiaro (University of Bologna) was elected as 2016-17 ISHS President, and Liisi Laineste (Estonian Literary Museum) and Sharon Lockyer (Brunel University) were elected as Board Members-at-Large. We thank all of the candidates who participated in this election.

2015 ISHS Conference (from Volume 28, Summer Issue, of the Humorous Times)
The 27th Conference of the International Society for Humor Studies was held at Holy Names University in Oakland, from June 29 to July 3.  This year’s conference included over 150 presentations, workshops, and performances from scholars and professionals representing 26 countries and 31 states within the U.S.A.  Paper sessions and workshops were organized into five thematic areas: (1) Cognition and Creativity, (2) Culture, Gender, and Community, (3) Health and Well-Being, (4) Individuals and Individual Styles; and (5) Public and Private Discourse. On June 29, opening day began in the morning with a preconference workshop on the Art of Improvisation, led by Regina Saisi and Chris Sams of the BATS School of Improv. The Conference opened officially in the afternoon with a welcome from Conference Convener, Martin Lampert, followed by a plenary session on Judiciary Humor, chaired by California Supreme Court Justice Carol A. Corrigan. In the later part of the afternoon, the Conference hosted a roundtable on Humor in Animation Art with artists from Pixar Animation Studios and the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum.

From June 30 to July 3, each Conference day began with a plenary session in the early morning followed by paper sessions and workshops in the late morning and the afternoon. In addition to the Judiciary Humor session, the other plenaries focused on Humor and Well-Being (June 30), Women in Stand-Up Comedy (July 1), Mark Twain in the West (July 2), and Cognitive Science and Humor Studies (July 3). Featured plenary presentations at the 2015 ISHS Conference included

Marc Galanter, University of Wisconsin Law School, Funny Judges: Judges as Humorous, Judges as Humorists
Christie Davies, University of Reading, Humorous Anecdotes about Judges in the United Kingdom
Pamela Hobbs, Attorney at Law, Los Angeles, Supreme Wit: The Use of Humor by the United States Supreme Court
Paul McGhee, The Laughter Remedy. Humor and Health: Has Research Supported the Popular Movement?
Willibald Ruch, University of Zurich, Humor and Subjective Well-Being
George Vaillant, Harvard University Medical School, The Evolution of Humor over the Lifespan
Sharon Lockyer, Brunel University, Women Matter in British Stand-Up Comedy
Kimie Oshima, Kanagawa University, Japanese Traditional Sit-Down Comedy
Regina Barreca, University of Connecticut, The Best Stand-Ups Stand Up for Something
Victor Fischer, University of California, Berkeley, Mark Twain in the West: An Exhibition
Benjamin Griffin, University of California, Berkeley, Editing Mark Twain in the West
John Bird, Winthrop University, Persona, Humor, and Metaphorical Conflict in Roughing It
Seana Coulson, University of California, San Diego, Conceptual Blending and Humorous Memes
Tony Veale, University College Dublin, Irony and Rule-Breaking in Rule-Based Generative Systems

For the first time, the Conference also included ten symposia and general sessions sponsored by ten international humor research organizations with additional papers provided throughout the Conference by the Australasian Humor Studies Network.  The ten symposia and their sponsors were Revisionist Strategies for the Study of 19th Century American Humor (American Humor Studies Association), The Myths and Realities of Applied and Therapeutic Humor and Laughter (Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor), Cross-Cultural Perspectives of Women in Stand-Up Comedy (Center for Comedy Studies Research, Brunel University), Humour in Communication Styles (European Journal of Humour Research), Humor in the Hispanic World between Poverty and Wealth (International Society for Luso-Hispanic Humor Studies), Israeli and Jewish Humor (Israeli Society for Humor Studies), Catastrophe Humor (Japanese Society for Laughter & Humor Studies), Mark Twain in the West (Mark Twain Circle of America), Humor: Mirror of Society (Observatoire de l'Humour), and Humor and Play: Partners in Child Development (The Association for the Study of Play).

At a special luncheon on July 1, the Society also honored the exceptional work of three graduate students. Alan Roberts (University of Sussex) received the Don and Alleen Nilsen Award for his paper, Philosophical Foundations for Humor Research.  ISHS Graduate Student Awards went to Ori Amir (University of Southern California) for his paper, The Neural Genesis of a Joke, and to and Stephen Skalicky (Georgia State University) for his paper, Study Finds Jack Shit: An Investigation of the Mental Processing of Satirical Onion Headlines.  The Society also honored Paul McGhee with its Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering research on the psychology of humor and his more recent work on humor, health, and resiliency. In addition to the scholarly sessions, the Conference offered a special exhibit, organized by UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, on Mark Twain’s early life and works in California and Nevada.

The Conference also held an evening performance series that included an Improv Competition (June 30), a Stand-Up Comedy Competition (July 1), and the play, Lend Me a Tenor (July 2), directed by Joel Schlader of Oakland’s Woodminster Theater.  Competing Improv teams included the Secret Improv Society, the Un-Scripted Theater Company, the Improvibles, and the winning team, the Made-Up Theatre. The Stand-Up Comedy Competition was hosted by Yakov Smirnoff, and included Mike Capozzola, Jamie Herrera, Kate Fox, Gabe Masson, Natasha Moss, David Nyugen, and co-winners, Gayla Johnson and Samson Koletkar. The Conference concluded on July 3 with the Society’s Annual Meeting of Members and a farewell dinner.  We now look forward to next year’s ISHS Conference to be held next summer at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

A Special Reflection on the 2015 ISHS Conference
Bernard Schweitzer, Vice President of the International Society for Heresy Studies (the other ISHS), presented at the 2015 International Society for Humor Studies Conference, and he reported on the Conference for the Heresy Studies Newsletter, Excommunicated. With his permission, you can read here Dr. Schweitzer's reflections in Excommunicated.

2016 Book Discounts
ISHS is pleased to announce the continuation of special members-only book discounts from Mouton DeGruyter, Wayne State University Press, Transaction Publishers, and John Benjamins. For 2016, ISHS members can receive sizable discounts on books in Mouton deGruyter's Humor Research series as well as 20% discounts on other books published by Mouton deGruyter. Members also receive 40% discounts on books in Wayne State University's Humor in Life and Letters series, 25% discounts on books in Transaction Publishers' Humor Studies series, and 30% to 50% discounts on Humor Research books from John Benjamins.
Members, you can contact the ISHS Executive Secretary to receive your Wayne State and Transaction Publishers promotion codes. Click here to see a list of selected Mouton-DeGruyter, Wayne State, Transaction, and John Benjamins humor research books.
The ISHS Scholarship Fund

In 2006, Holy Names University in Oakland, California established a special ISHS fund, so that the Society could receive contributions to support and recognize graduate students and notable humor researchers. Scholarships may be awarded to help a student or scholar complete important humor research or to present at one of our annual conferences. In 2012, the Society further established the Don and Alleen Nilsen Young Scholars Award to recognize notable student achievements at the Society's Conferences. An Awards Committee, established by the ISHS Executive Board, currently determines the number and the size of each award based on merit, need, and the availability of funds. If you wish to contribute to this scholarship fund you can make a donation with your 2016 membership application.

The procedures for applying for these awards can be found in Working Rules appended to the ISHS Constitution.

Twenty Five Years of Developing a Community
of Humor Scholars
by Alleen & Don Nilsen

Recently, Alleen and Don Nilsen wrote for the Journal of the American Humor Studies Association an article on their 25 years of service to humor scholarship in the United States and internationally.  ISHS is pleased to provide this article online to our members and others interested in humor studies. You can read the Nilsen's story as well as a recent Danish University of Education intereview with Don Nilsen by clicking on the links here.


Twenty Five Years of Developing a Community of Humor Scholars           JASH Table of Contents           Don Nilsen Interview


ISHS Newsletter Archive

In consultation with Mouton DeGruyter, the International Society for Humor Studies is pleased to provide its members with online access to the current issues of the Society's Newsletter and pre-2006 issues that also appeared in the Society's journal, HUMOR: International Journal for Humor Research. For more information on our journal, please visit the Journal pages on the ISHS or the Mouton DeGruyter websites.

The ISHS Newsletter Archive currently contains the Society's Newsletters from Winter 2000 (Volume 13, Issue 1) through the current issue. Click on Volume 28, Fall 2015, to read the current issue of The Humorous Times. Current members, to access earlier issues of the Newsletter, you must enter your 2015 or 2016 ISHS password.

Volume 28:   Winter 2015           Spring & Summer 2015          Fall 2015

Volume 27:   Winter 2014 & Spring 2014        Summer 2014     Fall 2014

Volume 26:   Winter 2013 & Spring 2013        Summer 2013     Fall 2013

Volume 25:   Winter 2012 & Spring 2012        Summer 2012     Fall 2012

Volume 24:   Winter 2011      Spring 2011      Summer 2011     Fall 2011

Volume 23:   Winter 2010 & Spring 2010        Summer 2010     Fall 2010

Volume 22:   Winter 2009           Spring & Summer 2009          Fall 2009

Volume 21:   Winter 2008 & Spring 2008        Summer 2008     Fall 2008
Volume 20:   Winter 2007      Spring 2007      Summer 2007     Fall 2007
Volume 19:   Winter 2006      Spring 2006      Summer 2006     Fall 2006
Volume 18:   Winter 2005 (One issue only)

Volume 17:   Winter 2004 & Spring 2004       Summer 2004      Fall 2004 

Volume 16:   Winter 2003     Spring 2003      Summer 2003      Fall 2003

Volume 15:   Winter 2002     Spring 2002      Summer 2002      Fall 2002

Volume 14:   Winter 2001     Spring 2001      Summer 2001      Fall 2001

Volume 13:   Winter 2000     Spring 2000      Summer 2000      Fall 2000