Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture (Ken Jennings) - Scribner - 2018 - 312 pages

After winning a gazillion dollars on Jeopardy, Ken Jennings became a full-time author.  In this scholarly book, filled with footnotes and references, Jennings tackles the lofty task of tracing the history of humor from Aristophanes & Moliere to Rick & Morty, and everything in between per his two-page chart (12-13).  The goal is to determine how the 21st century became inundated with comedians to whom every aspect of life can be converted to a joke.  He makes the case that social media (especially Twitter) has created an outlet for millions of amateur comedians.  Jennings has an excellent sense of humor.  He has documented an exhaustive amount of research that included interviews with numerous people who are currently in the business of funny.  Although I agree that this is an important book regarding the history of humor, I believe that two comedy giants were slighted in the book.  [JAM 7/9/2020]

1.  Mad magazine, created by Harvey Kurtzman in 1952, has been a significant influence to young Boomers who changed attitudes about world humor with creative satire, parody and telling the truth about the world.  Jennings barely mentions the magazine and actually gives more credit to The Fantastic Four created by Stan Lee in 1961.  I doubt that he has read very many issues of Mad.  In the 28 pages of reference notes at the back of the book, there is not a single reference to a Mad article or regular contributor to Mad.

2.  Woody Allen is not given much credit for his body of work.  In fact, Jennings seems to be perpetuating rumors about misconduct by Allen.  In fact, the accusations about Woody Allen and his young, adopted daughter were disproved by several witnesses and two groups of independent investigators.  The legal system found no basis to change him for a crime.  Allen's 2020 book, Apropos of Nothing clearly documents his innocence.  In a book where almost every comment is documented, it is inappropriate for Jennings to assume the truth of unfounded rumors.