Buddhist Realism and Dark Comedy: It's Funny Because It's True

Presented with Strand Bookstore


The Buddha is believed to have taught that the fundamental nature of the human condition is suffused with feelings of existential angst and abiding dissatisfaction. Such realism is not exclusive to Buddhism, however. As any dark comedian knows this already because making jokes about the reality of life usually gets big laughs, or as they say in the business—“kills.” Like the Buddha, the comic can be a powerful medium for communicating the more disquieting and shunned truths in life.

Join me in a provocative conversation on the merits of dark comedy as a vehicle for embracing the truth of the human condition. We’ll watch video clips of comedians like Louis C.K., Tig Notaro, and Andy Kaufman. And we’ll discuss why I believe that both Buddhism and dark comedy offer a kind of therapy for eliminating the existential anxiety that comes from being the kind of animal that lives with the knowledge of their own inexorable death.


Recommended reading from Penguin Press:

The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein, MD

“Epstein’s book is a guide to viewing trauma realistically, not striving to avoid it or even suss out its cause, but use it as a means of understanding “the texture” of our own suffering. If, as the Buddha said, life is suffering, why not suffer wisely?”

—Nancy Haught, The Portland Oregonian  




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue, the walls lined with leather-bound treasures from a book hand printed in 1480 to a limited edition Ulysses signed by Henri Matisse, the illustrator, and by James Joyce. 


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