[The nature of jokes and the role of broadcasters]

Sunday, July 29, 1956

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes discusses a paper titled "The contingency of humor appreciation on the stimulus-confirmation of joke-ending expectations" by Dr. Douglas T. Kenny. Seldes notes that the title of Kenny's paper is funnier than any of the sample jokes in the study, and seems to disagree with the findings. In Seldes' opinion, people are more amused when the unexpected occurs.

Seldes goes on to discuss Life Magazine, the role of popular magazines and political magazines, their critics and the how intellectuals fit in.

He makes and unclear statement about the hands that the broadcasting arts have fallen into, then goes on to mention Khrushchev's comments on the capitalist country's broadcasting networks. He notes that the Republican party will use television broadcasting more during campaign time than the Democratic party.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70593
Municipal archives id: LT7538

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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