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This article draws on a broad range of examples to outline how imperialism can serve as a key concept for the cultural analysis of American humor across varied themes, media, genres, historical eras, and identity standpoints. Judith Yaross Lee invites other scholars to join her at the 2020 Quarry Farm Symposium on the topic—and in their own research on stand-up comedy and literary, film, television, and graphic humor—in order to probe how the unequal transnational political relationships of imperialism have shaped the basic components (plot, character, incident), rhetorical conventions, and comic techniques—the constituent matters of empire—underlying comic traditions in the United States. Three seem immediately important: colonial continuity with comic traditions drawn from those of previous European imperial powers in the Americas, postcolonial discontinuity in comic traditions (such as vernacular humor) marked by anti-imperialist and anti-aristocratic ideologies grounded in the American Revolution, and neocolonial hybridization of native, immigrant, and other national or ethnic comic traditions through U.S. hegemony across the land and people of North America (and beyond). This new paradigm aims to capture the culturally specific ideological work of American humor and to braid the diverse themes, stock characters and plots, media, rhetorical conventions, and techniques that have been shaped by colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial relations in U.S. contexts into what Edward Said called a contrapuntal harmony.