Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, was featured in the June 23 issue of ODE Magazine in an article titled “Laughter can set people free.” Jenkins argues that laughter is a survival tactic for people under siege. “For ages, comedy has been used as a liberating tool for people, especially in oppressive regimes, to confront, ridicule and criticize the powerful,” Jenkins says in the article.
Jenkins recalls how he began his study of laughter: “When I was in pre-medical school, I was trying to help a child with autism who never made eye contact and who never spoke, [except to] repeat words spoken to him. My comical, silly, joking gestures broke though a barrier and he started looking in my eyes and initiating words. That’s when I knew I would not learn how to make people laugh in medical school. I decided to become a circus clown.”