Comedy and Censorship: Banned Books Readout, Sept. 19

September 6, 2019

The seventh annual Banned Books Readout is taking place Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Oviatt Library’s Ferman Presentation Room.

"Comedy and Censorship – Why do we Fear the Funny?" is scheduled from 1-3 p.m. Pizza will be served at the readout, a collaboration between the Journalism Department and the Oviatt Library.

"The purpose of the readout is to celebrate our freedom to read any book, even if offensive, under the liberties guaranteed to us all by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," said Journalism Prof. Elizabeth Blakey. "We all have the freedom to read regardless of the objections to a book based on its themes. 

This year’s guest author is Beth Lapides, founder of the Un-Cabaret, an alternative comedy show in Los Angeles that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary year."

Lapides will discuss comedy, alternative comedy and why comedy is censored, to answer the question of why people fear comedy and parody, said Blakey, who also will address these topics in her lecture, "An Anthropology of Comedic Censored Books."

Blakey, an associate professor and a First Amendment scholar, is organizing the event with Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover and librarians Coleen Martin and Elizabeth Cheney. 

Also at the event, students from Blakey's JOUR 390 Freedom of the Press course (a upper division GE course for non-majors) will read from books, such as the recently censored, “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” by Jill Twiss, a writer for John Oliver's “Last Week Tonight,” on HBO.

"Every year, we read aloud from books that have been challenged in the last year based on content," Blakey said. "We also read from books that are often challenged, such as “Catcher in the Rye." 

The Banned Books Readout is an annual event at many libraries across the US in late September. Sponsored by the American Library Association, this year’s commemoration is set for Sept. 22-28. 

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