The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy


The comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff's book, The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy, is about the experience of the comedians that transcends the ages: the drive, jealousy, heartbreak, and triumph. Nesteroff brings to life a century’s worth of rebels and groundbreakers, mainstream heroes and counterculture iconoclasts, forgotten stars and workaday plodders in this history of American comedy.

The book Begins with the nationwide vaudeville circuits that dominated at turn of the twentieth century. Nesteroff describes the rise of the first true stand-up comedians, masters of ceremonies who abandoned physical shtick for straight jokes. The end of Prohibition started a surprising golden age of comedy, as funnymen were made into radio stars. Those were the days of the Copacabana, tuxedos, and smoking cigars onstage, when insulting the boss could result in a hit man at your door! In the 1950s, late-night television shows gave birth to young comics rebels, arriving on the beatnik coffeehouse scene with cerebral jokes and social angst. They soon found their own way to fame through comedy records that vied with top musicians for Billboard spots. Then came the comedy clubs of 1970s and 80s, Saturday Night Live and cable TV, and with the internet, a whole new generation of YouTube stars, podcast personalities, and Twitterati.







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January:
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February:
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August:
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November:
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