The Comedians

The Comedians

Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
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"Jokes change from generation to generation, but the experience of the stand-up comedian transcends the ages: the striving and struggles, the tragedy and triumph. From the Marx Brothers to Milton Berle, George Carlin to Eddie Murphy, Conan O'Brien to Louis C. K.--comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff presents a century of fascinating rebels, forgotten stars, and characters on the precipice of fame in this essnetial history of American comedy."--Book jacket.
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015.
ISBN: 9780802123985
0802123988
9780802190864
0802190863
Branch Call Number: 792.23 NESTEROFF
Characteristics: xvii, 425 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), portraits ; 24 cm

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Albscott17
Oct 15, 2016

I really enjoyed this book. It covered a wide range of comedians and comedy styles that have come and gone over the decades. He at least mentions every comedian I remember growing up and he tells some great details. I found it an easy read and very informative even in a topic I already knew in some detail.

e
egl
May 02, 2016

I enjoyed the early chapters of this most, the vaudeville performers and postwar club acts because much was new to me.

With a survey of a big subject like this it's hard not to have a few "but what about" gripes so I'll indulge:

Bob & Ray rate one sentence although he does discuss radio comedy in the tv era. This is a serious lapse.

Likewise for SCTV,a one sentence name drop, although 80's tv is covered in depth. I wondered if he disapproved of their parodies of Vegas lounge type comedians.

30's talkies comedy seems to be something he chose to treat lightly but this leaves the silliness of a book about comedy where Vaughan Meader gets more ink than Laurel and Hardy.

He does have a wonderful appreciation of how good Jonathan Winters was.

g
GummiGirl
May 02, 2016

This is better as history than comedy: you'll only find a few good jokes here. But it's wonderfully comprehensive, covering nearly a century and including quotes from a wide variety of sources. My only criticisms are: a) it has too many lists of little-known people, suggesting a need for hyperlinks that a physical book can't provide; and b) it doesn't really have an ending.

n
newdog
May 01, 2016

I expected this to be an amusing book, depicting the history of comedy, but it is written more as a very informative textbook, which was not what I was interested in. Therefore I did not give it a star rating as it would have been unfair to rate it based on my prior assumptions, rather than what the author's intent was. If you are truly looking for a book with historical facts about the comedy movement, this may well be the book for you; however, if you are looking for a book to fill your evening with laughter, you'd be better served by continuing your pursuit.

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