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TOO SOON: Comedy After 9/11


Too Soon: Comedy After 9/11 follows the halt and gradual rebirth of comedy following the events of September 11, 2001.

In the immediate aftermath, stand-up comics, broadway performers, The Onion satirical newspaper, late-night talk shows and institutions like Saturday Night Live learn how to navigate the new landscape.   

When the tragedy is used to justify the Iraq War, a wave of political awakening sweeps through comedy, helping to transform Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert into folk heroes. This type of biting political humor becomes more commonplace through the late Aughts as traditionally underrepresented comics dispel terrorist stereotypes.

Entering the modern era, where media once asked, “Will We Ever Laugh Again?” jokes specifically addressing the attacks are now prevalent on TV shows, films, and podcasts. And if we can appreciate jokes about 9/11, we can use humor to get through anything. Two decades on we understand why comedy continues to speak truth to power, puts voice to our fears, and helps us heal...because it’s never too soon for a good laugh.