Bob and Ben speak with Jon Waterlow about his new book It’s Only a Joke Comrade! Humor, Trust and Everyday Life Under Stalin and the role humor plays in helping humans make sense of the world in even the darkest times. Jon also shares his take on humor’s role in politics under Stalin and today, the process he went through to uncover these jokes, and how the artistic technique of crosshatching helps us understand what it was like to live under the Stalinist system. He also discusses his decision to forego publishing his book with an academic publisher and why he decided to leave a bright future in the academy to purse fulfillment elsewhere.
Dr. Jonathan Waterlow received his Doctorate in History from the University of Oxford and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Anthony’s College (Oxford) and the University of Toronto. He is also the cohost of the Voices in the Dark podcast, which is available anywhere you get The Road to Now.
This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. Our intro features Solomon Sawyer’s world podcast debut. Solomon is Ben Sawyer’s son. He is 3 years old.