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THURSDAY

I suspect the disinclination to chuckle at visual art is due less to social pressures than formal constraints. While many museumgoers appear uncomfortable—as if motivated by duty, not love—what keeps art from being funny is more likely the fact that it doesn’t do anything. Most artworks that succeed in being laugh-out-loud funny either use their stasis to mock the stories unfurling everywhere around them (e.g., the cosmically wry suspended basketballs of Jeff Koons) or create their own internal tales from the path the eye threads through them (as in Lari Pittman’s baroque delights). Oddly, Wanda Corn, who kicks off the new season of Duncan Phillips lectures with “Why Don’t We Laugh at Art?,” has published extensively on early American modernism, a specialization not known as the art-historical equivalent of Felix the Cat. Still, you’re invited to laugh with Corn (not at her) at 6:30 p.m. at the Powell Auditorium, 2170 Florida Ave. NW. $15. For reservations call (202) 387-2151. (GD)