We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

It’s tough to be entertaining when you’re trying to explain what’s funny. I should know: I’ve slept through enough comedy-writing classes. Some philosophers claim we laugh at the unexpected; others swear it’s misfortune that tickles most. Either way, speculating on the cause can take valuable time away from the result. Mel Watkins begins his book, On the Real Side: A History of African American Comedy From Slavery to Chris Rock, by taking a stab at what makes us black folk laugh. Luckily, he gives up soon enough and lets the examples speak for themselves. The result is a thorough examination of black humor’s pioneers and development in America. Watkins can’t hope to uncover precisely what’s so funny about being black, but at least he lhe’s asking Pryor and Cosby instead of Hobbes and Freud. Watkins discusses his book at 11:30 a.m. at Georgia Brown’s, 950 15th St. NW. Free. For reservations call (202) 393-4499. (Neil Drumming)