Why does comedy make us happy?

Prof. Angus Fletcher

Humans have created art to provoke laughter for millennia. Why does comedy work, and what does it reveal about the counterintuitive biology of the human brain?

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We've been creating art to make each other laugh since Ancient Greece. What does this tell us about the human condition?

We don't have to learn to laugh. Laughter is an instinctive behaviour, found in all cultures across the world, and even in our primate cousins like gorillas and orangutans. But why do we laugh, and how does comedy help us do it? What is going on in our brain when we laugh with or at someone else?

Dr. Angus Fletcher runs the world's leading think-tank into how stories work. His expertise in both Literature and Neuroscience makes him the perfect guide through the roots of comedy and why we create it. Angus joins us in The Garden to delve into comedy's three main happy effects, and what they reveal about the counterintuitive biology of the brain.

Talk outline


50 minutes


Stress & the Body

About the Fellow

Prof. Angus Fletcher

Prof. Angus Fletcher runs the world's leading think-tank into how stories work. As Professor of Story Science at Ohio State University, Angus specialises in using art & literature to unlock the neuroscience of human creativity and emotional resilience.

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Stress & the Body Collection

Stress. Your heart races, you feel overwhelmed, you may get dizzy or hot or sweaty. At some point in our lives we have all experienced that feeling, but what is actually happening to our bodies from a scientific perspective when our minds are under stress?

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