Comedian Jesse Appell performs at a club in Beijing. Appell won a scholarship in 2012 to study comedy in China and has been performing on the country's small but growing stand-up comedy circuit.
Desiree Akhavan plays Shirin in Appropriate Behavior. Akhavan says she chose the name Shirin because it means sweet in Farsi. "Even though she's insane, she has a sweetness," says Akhavan.
Megan Lutz, left, and Justin Chun react to amateur comedian Robert Lynch at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan, N.Y. Lynch is an anthropologist researching what laughing reveals about us.
Melanie Burford for NPR