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Sort order. Oct 29, Robert Lopresti rated it it was amazing. This book probably annoyed my wife more than any book I have read in years. I seldom went two pages without interrupting her with: "Did you know Jack Benny refused to perform for segregated audiences, starting in ? No matter how well you think you know your favorite comics you will learn a ton more. View all 4 comments. Apr 26, Jeff Swartz rated it really liked it. I am a sucker for this kind of book. I like a good History book, especially when it covers a subject I am interested in.

At 57, there isn't an era of comedy covered here that I don't have a connection to. To clarify, I wasn't around for vaudeville, but I certainly remember seeing Groucho Marx and Jimmy Durante on my television screen at an early age. This book touches on just about everyone, but never goes too deep. If you didn't read these articles growing up or did but are only 24 years old , you will find a ton of good information here! The book does a nice job of showing you how the comedy torch was passed, albeit begrudgingly, from generation to generation. An interesting footnote, Because I was reading an advanced copy, there were no photos as there will be in the finished book.

In fact, a real enhancement that the author doesn't have to shell out time or money on. PS-while a few of their members were mentioned separately, a few paragraphs about Kids in The Hall would have been nice. I know, I know, they are Canadian, but so influential to their time here in the states. Oct 16, Stewart Tame rated it liked it. As the subtitle says, this is a history of American comedy from vaudeville to the death of Robin Williams.

Odds are, your personal favorite comedian is given short shrift in this book--if they're even mentioned at all--but that's because Nesteroff gives EVERYONE short shrift. The subject is huge in scope. It's not much exaggeration to say that entire books can be and have been written on the subject of each paragraph in this tome. What Nesteroff has given us is an invaluable overview of comedy As the subtitle says, this is a history of American comedy from vaudeville to the death of Robin Williams.

What Nesteroff has given us is an invaluable overview of comedy history and the outside forces if any that helped shape it. His prose flows well, and the text is bristling with incident and anecdote. If the book has a fault, it is that it is too superficial. People and events fly by and are gone before you're ready to move on. It's not entirely Nesteroff's fault; there's simply too much history to be contained in a book this size.

He gives an overview and a bibliography.

You Need This Book: THE COMEDIANS | moifriskalhand.ga

Further digging is left up to the reader. Nov 14, victor harris rated it it was ok. The earlier sections of the book when it covers the comedians who came out of vaudeville was interesting. The Marx Brothers, Milton Berle and many others paid their dues in the declining backwater of the vaudeville circuit before they made the transition to radio and TV. As the book develops it becomes dry reading and even a chore to plow through as it reads more like a list of comics and venues. Probably closer to a 2. Also has good coverage of how the Mob dominated the stand-up comic world and how Hugh Hefner proved very progressive by offering outlets for black comedians who were largely invisible in more high profile settings.

Unfortunately there is no unifying story line that holds the narrative together and it could have used editing to slash some of the clutter. Jul 31, Rebecca rated it liked it Shelves: academic-challenge This book is a prime example of why trade non-fiction books need something like the process of academic peer-review. Nesteroff, who is on television and described as "a human encyclopedia of comedy" is unarguably knowledgeable and clearly did a huge amount of work to produce this book, including hundreds of interviews with comedians.

Kliph Nesteroff’s ‘The Comedians’ Untangles the Roots of American Standup

This book, unfortunately, is really uneven. As others hav This book is a prime example of why trade non-fiction books need something like the process of academic peer-review. As others have said, it is much stronger in the early chapters than it is toward the end, though it picks up when Nesteroff is writing about his own period and context - the "alt" comedy scene of the s-early s.

He tries to cover everything from variety shows, to stand-up, to sketch comedy, as well as live venues, television, and radio, explaining how comedians worked both as performers and writers for others in a huge variety of contexts in "showbiz". While occasionally pulling this off, the book suffers greatly from seemingly random choices of what to emphasize, which leads to glaring omissions.

The weakest chapters cover the the s and s. A peer-reviewer would surely have pointed it out to him that he doesn't provide a narrative about the genesis, development and influence of Saturday Night Live despite having done this for Laugh In, the Tonight Show, David Letterman and the Daily Show.

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Instead, SNL appears here and there as it plays a role in the lives of individual comics from the s-on. Since he includes quotations about the show's decline from George Carlin towards the book's conclusion, he clearly sees it as central to comedy history, making the omission seem like an accident rather than a choice. Similarly, while he discusses Steve Martin's early career, he never discusses the impact of Martin's SNL appearances or his comedy records.

John Belushi gets one sentence - about his drug use and death. Another major influence from this era who he never discusses is Al Franken.

The Comedians Drunks Thieves Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy

Perhaps even worse, given the book's discussion of TV variety shows is the total failure to discuss the Carol Burnett Show, which ran for 11 years and won 25 Emmys. And yet, he does spend a paragraph on the failed Tim Conway spin-off attempt.


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The omission of Carol Burnett is part of a larger problem in the book that seems less random. Nesteroff has very little to say about women in comedy, whether as writers or performers. He does briefly discuss both Joan Rivers and Lily Tomlin. He occasionally mentions Phyllis Diller as an 'old timer" without ever saying what was funny about her. But that's about it. I'm sure there are many more. I imagine that this omission replicates the interests of people he interviewed, which may also have something to do with his own taste in comedy.

Sep 26, Ollie rated it really liked it.


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I am a comedy nerd and the current comedy boom is the sweet stuff that dreams are made of. My dreams, anyway. Yes, with any boom comes an excess of participants. Most will fade away when said boom goes bust, forever forgotten. Unless of course some avid fan read: nerd writes a book about them. Enter the Comedians by Kliph Nesteroff. The man knows his stuff. Another great aspect of the Comedians is its flow.

Instead of devoting tiresome chapters or going on and on about certain topics grinding the narrative to a halt, the Comedians instead briefly flashes a spotlight on a trend, or comedian, or club and smoothly moves the story right along. Everything serves to propel the narrative forward. From the old vaudevillian days to the latest comedy boom, we learn about the birth of standup, the feuds, the clubs, the trends, the mob, the locations, the shows and characters that helped the genre evolve through all the years. The results are engaging and damn-right exciting.

The only flaw in this book is that unfortunately Nesteroff cuts his story a bit short, ending his chronicle in the late s and leaving us craving more. The Comedians is an informative and imperative read for anyone interested in show business and entertainment. Jan 20, John G.

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Absolutely one of the very best books you will ever read about the history of stand-up comedy! This is a scholarly, exhaustive, but yet entertaining study of this unique creative art form.

It's gritty too, plenty of tooth and fang and comic dish.