Can humor make a difference?

Political humor can prompt people to change the society by engaging them through different perspectives. Unlike most media, political comedy takes humor into account, and it opens people to the comedians’ thoughts, “What makes comedy so effective is that if you’re making them laugh along the way, they’re going to listen to the deeper cut stuff” (Farsad 13). As joke tellers gain the audiences’ trust, they can convey a lot of information, and let people be aware of the reality. “Arguably they offer a more open-minded and informed alternative, one which takes pride in digging for truths and in providing additional perspectives and points-of-view” (Ellis 151). Besides being a delivery system of truth, comedies can innovate the public’s thoughts and encourage them to participate in the social changes. While a lot of changes occur with blood and fire, political humor peacefully resolves the conflicts. As Jon Steward observes, “a joke has never ridden a motorcycle into a crow with a baton. A joke has never shot teargas to a group of people in a park. It’s just talk” (Taksler 42:30-43:00). In other words, a joke uses wit to overcome gruesome threats. Therefore, political humor benefits people with its open-mindedness, and deals with social problems in a subtler way.

Although comedians use humor to engage the audiences, some scholars point out the straw men of comedies that fail to consider the credibility of counterarguments, “Comedic straw men degrade the opposition not only by twisting and misrepresenting their arguments, but also by ridiculing them” (Lopez 159). It seems comedies always use these cheat tactics to win people’s heart. However, the straw men here are benign, because they are used for good purposes.

Works cited

Ellis, Iain. “Political Humor and Its Diss Contents.” Pop Matters, 14 Oct. 2012, Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 150-155.

Lopez, Ramon. “Why Jon Stewart is Bad for America.” The Federalist, 5 Dec. 2014, Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 156-162.

“Negin Farsad: Can Humor Fight Prejudice?” TED Radio Hour from NPR, 24 Mar. 2017,

Tickling Giants. Directed by Sara Taksler, 2016.


Summary of The Dark Psychology of Being a Good Comedian

In the article The Dark Psychology of Being a Good Comedian, Olga Khazan, by exploring facts and arguments of puns about tragic events, presents us with an insightful perspective: Good comedians, given the optimal conditions for telling jokes, can violate audience’s feelings while making them laugh. For example, after 9/11, the comedy industry received critical receptions, in some individuals, such as The Onion staffers who ridiculed the hijackers using derisive words but with inner anger, getting more applauses than others. To address this phenomenon, Khazan employs psychologist Peter McGraw’s “benign violation” theory, which states “comedy is equal parts darkness and light” (113). This theory asserts that great comedy never goes into the two extremes. To be successful comedians, they should first make the audience uncomfortable by aptly addressing something sorrowful and unsettling; then, when the jock comes out, they start to laugh as if there are nothing to be worried about. Gilbert Gottfried failed to accomplish this task for his joke was so threatening that he did not consider how audience feel about it.

Despite the subject matter being told, geography, distance, time and comfort, too, contribute to receptions of some comedy performances. Warner claims in some places, jokes are free, while in other locations, they are plainly unacceptable (114). Comedians need to realize this factor to choose where they will be performing. HURL lab has found “tragedies … are funnier when they’re either physically or socially distant. ‘Mishaps’ meanwhile, are funnier when we’re closer to them” (114). This aspect is important to manipulate the extent to which they are miserable. The lab also discovered event that is neither too close to be dangerous nor too distant to be unfamiliar is the most suitable material for comedians to make jokes (114). There is a point when the event is neither too threatening nor too unfamiliar that is best for comedians to joke about. Finally, Warner posits that “it’s best if the audience doesn’t get too comfortable” (115). Such atmosphere render audience a nonmalignant threat and let them pay more attention to the comedy. Therefore, should comedians grip these conditions wisely, their careers will be with success and appreciation.


Work Cited

Khazan, Olga. “The Dark Psychology of Being a Good Comedian.” Atlantic, 27 Feb. 2014, Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 112-115.



       I hereby thank my groupmates Shuli Zhu for the writing program, who helps me in organizing my summary structure and points out some unconvincing arguments for me to fix, and Yuye Huang, for correcting grammatical mistakes and reading through the essay. Finally, I would especially appreciate instructor Karen Marie Gocsik and mentor Sarah Ardell, for guiding our group discussion and reminding me of adding the Acknowledgement Page, which is vital in analytical writing.

Response to O’Hara’s A Serious Business: What Can Comedy Do?

It’s enjoyable to read through your article as it proceeds through a series of argumentation supporting the positive roles played by comedy. The beginning of the entire essay catches my eyes as it describes a vivid conversation between Maeve Higgins and Jon Ronson, who were ready for their comedy performance. The discussion of the effect of humor, of course, started from the motivating questions: “What is humor for? And can humor, as comedy, change how we feel, what we think or even what we do?” After integrating the two comedians’ thoughts about comedy, these motivating questions suitably set up an inquiry in which you, along with other guest stakeholders, together come up with a number of insightful ideas that make the essay basically persuasive to us readers.
The first aspect I think convincing is the various perspectives you considered to make the argument wholesome. There are many people with different occasions that see comedy in distinctive ways. For example, Negin Farsad, a writer, celebrates comedy “as a platform for advancing social justice”. He focuses on the social role humor plays in making the world a better place. Scott Weems, a neuroscientist, thinks about comedy as “a form of psychological processing, a coping mechanism that helps people to deal with complex and contradictory messages” This explanation to humor is more scientific in nature for it stems from academic research studies. Stephen K. Amos, who professes in being a comedian, gives another different interpretation of humor: “I don’t do things for shock value, I do stuff that matters to me.” As an individual with experiences in telling jokes, he knows more about the pragmatic use of comedy. There are, still, a lot of other people with different vocations that contribute their own ideas based on what they observe. Nevertheless, there is a consensus among them that posits humor as a benefactor to the entire humanity.
The other facet about your argument that attracts my attention is the intricate connections among the beginning, body paragraphs, and the ending. They all contain several aspects that are interwoven together. For example, Josie Long said “Satire is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. This part connects to what Higgins said previously, “Laughter is a lubricant and is expected, and it’s really hard not to do it.” The two sayings share certain characteristics as if when we begin to read the article, it has implicitly conveyed the message that comedy gives people happiness and get them away from troubles, though Long emphasizes humor in a social scale, while Higgins thinks about humor in a more personal way. In the end, the saying of Jamie Masada also retouches the previous arguments. “It’s so fundamental to us. We need comedy like air to breathe… Making someone laugh is the greatest power any human being can have!” These simply expressed sentences illustrate the essence of humor.
Certainly, there’s something I am confused about your passage, noticing the identities of the “guests” you invited. I would like to question why you chose the stakeholders who have ideas corresponding to yours. In other words, I wonder what is the evidence beyond your selection of the opinions that support your argument. I see the ideas you referred to are all from at least somewhat renowned individuals, and all of them have some experiences related to comedy or humor. Can there be any stakeholders that are not greatly titled? If there are any people, who, in fact, do not devote much time in comedy career, but have similarly positive voices toward humor, I think your essay will be more persuasive to those who do not have much understanding about the relevant topic.


Work Cited

O’Hara, Mary. “A serious business: what can comedy do?” Mosaic, 23 Aug. 2016,


Launch a Project Experiment: Gibberellin and Brassinolide

AP Statistics Project Proposal

(It has to be an experiment, no observational study will be accepted)

Group members:

Name ID
Jiayi Liu 2014530054
Ziyi Wang 2014530070
Fan Xu 2014530268
Junhui He 2014530723
  1. Topic (What is the research question)

Comparison of the Effects of Gibberellin and Brassinolide on Soybean Seed Germination

  1. Sampling (Be specific about how subjects might be selected)

Randomly select 120 soybeans that are purchased from the same source.

  1. Variables:

Explanatory variables:

Type of plant hormone being used: categorical, no plant hormone (control), Gibberellin, Brassinolide, or both.

Response Variable: the height of seedlings after 2 days; the height of seedlings after 7 days.

  1. Treatment:

We have 4 kinds of treatments.

For the selected seeds, randomly assign them to different treatments, which is soaking the soybean seeds in specified solution for 12 hours. Each treatment has 30 seeds:

No plant hormone 10-6 mol/L Gibberellin
10-6 mol/L Brassinolide 5×10-7 mol/L Gibberellin + 5×10-7 mol/L Brassinolide

After soaking, transplant the seeds to soil. Water the seeds every 12 hours, take an account of the proportion of germinated seeds. Also measure the height of seedlings after 2 days and 7 days.

  1. What extraneous variables might influence the response?

Environmental factors, like temperature, light intensity, water, and even soil conditions all could have impact on seed germination.

  1. How does the design protect against its potential influence on the response through blocking, direct control, or randomization?

We would use preliminary experiment to ensure the optimal conditions for plant growth. Despite that, we would also apply:

Direct control: All the seeds are grown in the same room and are expose to the same environmental factors so that the extraneous factors’ effects are not confounded with those of the experimental variables.

Randomization: Randomly assign the seeds to different treatment groups to ensure that the experiment does not systematically favor one treatment over another.

Replication: There is considerable amount of individuals for each treatment to achieve an adequate number of observations for each experimental condition.

  1. Statistical method (e.g. we plan to use…method to explore … We hope to have a …result)

Normally, we would apply what we learned from descriptive statistics: Calculating important statistics, like the mean heights of seedlings, and representing them in the form of a bar chart for comparison.

For the part of inference, we plan to use two-sample t-test to explore whether there is a significant difference in the effects of different plant hormones in the heights of seedlings. We hope that there is significant difference so that we could have evidence to support that one plant hormone is greater in promoting germination than the other.

We also plan to use regression analysis to explore whether there is a linear relationship between the heights of seedlings after 2 days and those after 7 days for a specific treatment group, thus implicitly see if each hormone has prolonged effect.

Compare and Contrast the Force from A New Hope and the Way from Taoist ideals

The Force from A New Hope and the Way in Taoism present two great distinctive beliefs. The Force, an energy field created by all li

ving things that bestows individuals with idealistic courage, surrounds and penetrates them; the Way, on the other hand, is the mysterious, unnamable process through which everything in the universe happens, teaching people to be less attentive to the glory from material world.

The Force provides people with means of completing some challenging quests that could render great results, regardless of what they have. In A New Hope, it is a natural power contrary to a more technological power the Death Star uses. To show this, the Rebels and heroes are seen in more natural settings like deserts and forests while the Empire is seen in large technological settings. As the mentor Obi-wan Kenobi always says to Luke, “May the Force be with you.”, this sentence acts as a spiritual guide to Luke’s journey and gives him determination, which is a clear distinction with Darth Vader’s emphasis on brutal destruction. For instance, when he is going for a mission to destroy the Death Star, there are many missiles from his enemies that block his way. Commonly, he is not able to handle this situation by himself, but every moment the sentence flashes back to his mind, he can pay more attention toward the mission and be less stressed. In a way, the Force goes beyond the superiority of technology and makes something impossible come true.

By contrast, the Way emphasizes more about the balance between gain and loss throughout lifetime. If people is enlightened by it, they will be guided to understand the benefits and drawbacks of certain deeds. Also, the Way reduces the distinction between different things but rather integrate them into a whole. “Heaven and earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs; the sage is ruthless, and treats the people as straw dogs.” (5.1-2) Under Taoist view, all the living things are under the same world, that they should be treated equally, since their existences have certain meanings that people should not depreciate. To reinforce the idea, Daodejing points out that the Way in which stricter and stricter laws create crime and stifle a country’s productivity. As people are members of the society, they need to obey the law of nature regardless of how powerful they are. In conclusion, it is feasible to say that the Way goes beyond the superiority of rules – the confinement – and makes something absurd explicable.

Though the Force and the Way differ in many perspectives, they share the ideal intellect of having people completing certain important goals. As Luke is able to defeat dreadful enemies and finally save princess Leia and her planet behind so many challenges through the encouragement of the Force, he has to think about the negative effects about his journey, like what the Way considers. Even though A New Hope does not have any mention about the Way, it actually exists throughout the storyline: As the Death Star’s evil plan irritates the Rebels, the Force comes into action to urge the heroes wiping out the vicious authority, giving Darth Vader a painful compensation.

In general, the Force and the Way both in a degree present people’s ideals about the right behaviors, but the Force can also be seen as a metaphysical power that prompts individuals to be dedicated to their actions, while the Way puts more emphasis on the two sides of a single event, benefiting, also punishing, the person who takes part in it.


Works Cited

“Star Wars: A New Hope” 20th Century Fox. Washington D.C.: L. George, 1977.

“Daodejing.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Trans. D.C. Lau. Third ed. Vol.A. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2012, 1347-1354. Print.


A Story That Gets You Hooked

He became aware of his pounding headache as he regained consciousness. The enveloping darkness impeded his ability to identify his surroundings; it took him several moments to realize he was laying on the backseat of a moving vehicle. He tried to sit up and look out the window in an attempt to orient himself, but was immediately pushed back down by someone. A flash of light illuminated the interior of what he then recognized as his family’s minivan – and he noticed his mother in the driver’s seat. He sensed something was wrong. Her normally calm disposition had been replaced by one of trepidation and alarm.

“What’s go…”

“Shh! Stay down! Stay down! They can’t know you’re here! We have to get you to safety!” She whispered.

“Who can’t know…”


All he could see was an unfamiliar road illuminated by the headlights.

A Debate: Parents Should be Able to Choose the Sex of Their Children

Honorable judges, dear opponents, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I stand in strong affirmation of today’s resolution that Heart of Darkness is a thoroughly racist text.

The issue suggests that in this round we shall focus on the time being. Thus, to win the debate, Con side must prove that there are better ways now to solve the problems that can only be solved by choosing children’s sex, and prove that parents’ choosing children’s sex should be completely banned.

Contention 1:

Affordable and ethical technology.

Coming to the issue today, my opponents (might) say the way to choose the children’s sex is abortion. But to get the facts straight, according to PGD, a Big Step Forward written by professor James Walls, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which is abbreviated to PGD, is the technology being used to choose children’s sex since 1970s. Human’s sex is not decided until 20 days after fertilization. By PGD, parents can select children’s sex during the 20 days by changing the concentration of X and Y chromosomes. It provides a possibility of 75% to make the baby’s sex as expected. This means, by PGD, parents can choose their baby’s sex without killing anybody, and the selected babies would be as healthy and clever as the unselected ones. Now, PGD treatments are available all around the world. Many of them like the UK and China, PGD treatments are only used for special medical purposes. Others like USA, people can get PGD as long as they want to. The average price for a PGD treatment is from 1000 dollars to 3000 dollars. It does not require surgeries. Therefore it is proved over the years that a sex selection is affordable for the majority, and it does not harm anybody. So why shouldn’t we meet people’s satisfactory by PGD?

Contention 2:

Genetic disease.

Sub-point a.

Sex-limited inheritance causes hereditary diseases that are only caught by one sex.

According to Study of Hereditary Disease written by P Goodwin, there are over 4000 different kinds of hereditary diseases that are discovered. In every 100 new born babies, 3 to 5 of them get at least one hereditary disease. What’s more, a big part of the hereditary diseases is only caught by one certain sex, and most of them are incurable. For instance, over 250 kinds are only caught by male. The other sex carries the gene, which causes that disease, and passes it on to the next generation. The most famous example is Queen Victoria’s hemophilia. She had nine children, all her boys suffered from Hemophilia A, and her girls became the carriers of it. The hemophilia spread widely through European imperial families by marriages. Many royal men, including one of Victoria’s offspring, Prince Leopold died from small injuries because of Hemophilia. For now, we have a best way to prevent the diseases from occurring. That is to let the parents with genes that would cause the diseases to select the sex of their children. In this way, we can safely calculate that at least 20,000 people have been saved.

Sub-point b.

Chromosomal abnormality.

According to a study done by professor David C. Connor of UC Davis, 0.017% of babies’ sex chromosomes are abnormal. This makes them neither male nor female, but something else like intersex. For the time being, we have no comprehensive law to protect these people’s rights. For instance, most of the 224 countries have only restrooms for male and female. Which restrooms shall the abnormal ones go into? The only way to prevent them from getting hurt in this situation is to prevent them from being born. And this requires sex selection. My dear opponents might argue that this is sexism. However, it needs to be clarified in advance that this is not sexism, but the only thing we can do to protect these people in a world with sexism, unless my opponents have a way to kill sexism right now.

In conclusion, parents should be able to choose the sex of their children.

So please vote for us. Please vote for pro.

Do you think being helpful is a good thing?

One night, I was walking with a cola bottle on a pathway. Beneath the dizzy light, I could only feel the wind blew the trees and gave out a little sound. The leaves fell down and whispered with attrition. I rambled on the street and drank some cola. As the bottle was empty, I unconsciously threw it to the ground. Meanwhile, a cleaner appeared on the other side of the road. She was sedulously sweeping the garbage and collecting it into a large black plastic bag. With a little embarrassment, I picked up the bottle and put it into that bag. She looked at me and smiled, but the smile only lasted for several seconds, then it completely disappeared. She just went on cleaning and sweeping some fallen leaves into the dustpan.

However, this smile reminded me of something happened before. It was so familiar to me that it initiated my retrospection.

That was a Friday evening, I was standing inside a bus. It was too crowded for me to move even one step. Suddenly, there was a seat which no one was sitting on. Rapaciously, I went straight to the seat and ready to capture it. To my surprise, some milk tea was filled with the surface of the seat with some dark pearls. These pearls were rolling as if a group of black eyes were looking at me. It made me a little hesitated and at that time, I nearly lost my head.

Then, an old granny got on the bus. She was carrying a lot of scruffy bags. In the front of her head was full of frowns. Besides, white hair and dense freckles made her face looked very blurry. Since she carried so many bags, and it was a bit ridiculous of her to take them, passengers even glanced at her and mocked.

The steward began speaking loudly, “ Please give a seat to the elderly.” The voice existed for several times, and sitting people looked at each other. However, no one sat on the seats was willing to take such this action.

I saw her lumpy body was always swinging because of the change in the bus’ velocity, it was extremely ramshackle and I expected that she might fall down abruptly. To be honest, I wouldn’t let it happen, and I couldn’t see someone get injured accidentally. Therefore, I took out a pack of tissue and scrubbed that dirty seat without hesitation. I spread out one of my hands and sincerely said, “Granny, please sit on the seat, I just cleaned it, you won’t be worried about it.” She slowly walked to the seat and sat down. “Thank you.” she smiled to me, and this smile seemed unconscious. However, it also looked so naive and friendly. At that moment, my heart beat suddenly, and I felt like I was surrounded by profound pride.

Inside the other hand, the soaked tissue was still grasped. And the refreshing fragrance of milk tea blew to my whole face. I smelled it pleasantly and that odor made me feel so warm. I was not able to help smiling.

Smiles may come from everywhere, they are visceral enough to produce a large amount of positive energy, and these actions impel people to be true, good and beautiful. Giving a hand to others seems negligible, but it really gives happiness to people. Eventually, the helper can also feel enjoyable.

A Letter to My English Teacher

(Envisioning weakness of studying and practicing English, I genuinely wrote a letter to my teacher who taught me Honors English. This letter, though seemingly naïve to my present respect, really gave Elliot a deep impression.)

Dear Elliot,

I am very grateful for you that your lessons make my English better and better, and the courses are pretty interesting. I like them very much. However, I am a bit depressed because my English is not so good. Although most of students in our class got A+ in Senior-High School Entrance Examination including me, I seldom speak English with others. And the language I usually communicate with my parents is Chinese. Also, I graduated from an experimental school and I even had no opportunity to talk in English. But a large number of my classmates are all graduated from foreign language School, and they can nearly speak English every time.

At the beginning of the Honor English, I felt extremely anxious that I sometimes burst out some Chinese words unconsciously when I was speaking English. And when I heard that my classmates spoke fluently, I even wanted to punish myself because of my poor English, and I had a willing to recoil. The mark I got in TOEFL Junior is less than 800, and I understood that my English is in bottom of all the students in International System. But one of my classmates, is taught by Colin at present, has gained 117 in TOEFL. “What a intelligent genius!” I sighed after I knew that. While I am preparing for TOEFL, others are preparing for SAT. So I tried my best to improve my English, and I already have a plan to operate my time between these two exams.

What’s more, I dream to learn in one of the American universities in order to improve my academic abilities, and I can open my eyes to concern about global problems. During the courses, I found that the dream is nearer and nearer to me, and it is more likely to come true. I have been more confident after one month’s study. And I can also communicate with my classmates in English normally. I felt so happy that I made progress, and the progress is too extraordinary to imagine.

In Shenzhen Middle School, I have taken part in some organizations such as SUPER NOVA, We-Club, Model United Nations. Because these clubs are not only interesting, but also can help with my English.

And now it is 7-day-long-holiday. And I requested that I should talk with my parents in English for at least three hours per day. They agreed with me because it is a really nice idea, and my parents are well educated in English. I believe that it will be a big step of my English study, and I am looking forward to increase my abilities, too.

All in all, I really appreciate for you during this month. You are very helpful, and not strict with us. Thanks very much.

Best regards