Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture by Ken Jennings

Title: Planet Funny:  How Comedy Took Over Our Culture
Author: Ken Jennings
Read by:  Ken Jennings
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: Approximately 9 hours and 11 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster.  Thank-you!

I need more humor in my life, and I was very happy to review Planet Funny by Ken Jennings.  In this non-fiction work, Jennings chronicles the history of humor and how it has changed over time.  I found it to be both enlightening and funny.

Ken Jennings was born in 1974 and is only four years older than me.  His path through his love of comedy parallels my own growing up and he has the same Gen X sensibilities. I knew most of his references and discussions. I had not realized I really knew so many comedians before listening to this audiobook, but I do seek out humor every day.

I enjoyed the entire book, but towards the end of the book, racism and sexism in humor was discussed and it was very interesting.  Especially how jokes like “Polish jokes” were used to be relatable as Polish people were something we could all laugh at . . . but there is a line there where you go from humor to racism and it’s hard to find that line at times.  It was interesting to discuss how minstrel shows were such an important part of entertainment in the past and were considered quintessential American humor but are verboten now.

Humor in politics was discussed through President Obama’s appearance on Between Two Ferns to how President Trump used humor to become president.  Political humor from Will Rogers through Jon Oliver was discussed as well. I love political humor shows and have since my college days, so I really enjoyed this section.  Although I was frankly disturbed thinking about how some people don’t understand the difference between real news and satire and believed the over the top Stephen Colbert persona on the Colbert report.

Author Ken Jennings narrated this audiobook and I liked it.  It was relatable and very an interesting listening experience.  Jennings own timing and telling of experiences and jokes worked well together.

Overall Planet Funny was an interesting look at humor historically and in modern times that you will find humor in as you read along or listen to the audiobook.


  1. This does sound like an interesting look at humor. I'm glad you found it to be interesting and funny, Laura. Terrific review!

  2. Thank-you! I really love humor. It's been fun lately trying to find humor books for my 10 year old son. He loves a good laugh.