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The Institute for Travesty, Comedy, and Humor Studies


Shakespeare's Comedies

Vitalist Film Comedies

Classic Film Comedies

Sombre Comedy

Senior Comedy

 The Essence of Comedy

Humor Quotient  Newsletter

Humor and Aging















History and Mission


The Institute for Travesty, Comedy, and Humor Studies (ITCHS) grows out of decades of research on dramatic, cinematic, and narrative comedy, beginning in Sombre Comedy:  Comedy in a New Mood (Northwestern University, 1971), Comedy (television series, Minnesota State University System-Winona State University, 1975), and Comedy in Space, Time, and the Imagination (Nelson-Hall, 1983).


In 1990, the original comedy-centeredness of this work broadened with an invitation to join the International Society of Humor Studies (ISHS). A seminal panel discussion of then-current humor testing at the ISHS annual conference in in Sheffield, England, led to theoretical design and actual development of a Humor Quotient Test (HQT) in 1991 and further developmental of fundamental test hypotheses by Robin Jaeckle Grawe. Since that time, the HQT has been administered to better than 4000 respondents, and the fundamental test hypotheses have been repeatedly demonstrated by empirical results. A wide array of side tests have also shown with very high confidence that humor preference among Humor of the Mind categories is related to many other psychological and sociological variables, many of them highly surprising.


It thus became clear early on that these strong and surprising results needed to be reported to the international academic community concerned with humor studies. For this purpose, the Humor Quotient Newsletter (HQN) was established in 1995 to quickly report empirical results, and a long-term commitment was made to present on this research primarily through ISHS but in other academic settings as well. In establishing a website, ITCHS' first goal was to create an archive for HQN and to reproduce papers which relate to these empirical humor results.


HQT turned out to be only the first of many test and side-test instruments. Notably, the HQT was followed by the Langerian/Bergsonian Vitalist Humor Lest (LBVHT), the Legislative Simulation (LS), and the Critical Thinking Inventory (CTI).  By 1998, these many strands were brought together in the official registration of ITCHS with the State of Minnesota. In 2007, ITCHS took the HQT into Lake Winona Manor, a long-term care facility, and reported on findings to the aging services community. 


And most recently ITCHS has begun an analogous application of the methodology of comedic structure and humor analysis to Shakespeare’s tragedies. The Shakespearean Tragedic Language Assessment, modeled on the HQT, has already yielded significant empirical insights, which have been documented in In Search of Shakespearean Tragedy: Tragedic Language, Tragedic Form (Lap Publishing, 2016).  Subsequent administration of the assessment at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum yielded ground-breaking results demonstrating  correlations between  preferences for art and for Shakespearean rhetoric.


Here as everywhere, we need to acknowledge our tremendous indebtedness to the respondent associates at Winona State University and far beyond who have taught us so much about humor. We are also grateful for the cooperation of the English Department at Winona State University, the administration thereof, MnSCU, the Bush Foundation, Lake Winona Manor, the volunteer associates at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, and many other civic, church, and community groups too numerous to mention here but to be mentioned in acknowledgements to various volumes published on this website.


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