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Baggy Pants Comedy: Burlesque and the Oral Tradition (Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History) 2011th Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0230116795
ISBN-10: 0230116795
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Editorial Reviews

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"Those unfamiliar with burlesque sketch comedy will enjoy reading many of the better-known routines. This study fills a glaring gap in the study of American popular culture. It is a must for those interested in American theater and popular culture. Summing Up: Essential. All readers." - CHOICE

"Andrew Davis has succeeded in writing a definitive history of burlesque comedy in America. Well written and intelligently critiqued, this is a very timely book because there has been a revival of burlesque itself. Davis knows this field better than anyone." - Lawrence E. Mintz, Associate Professor Emeritus, American Studies, University of Maryland, USA

"An impressive document. It is accessible, enjoyable, and highly readable, while fully exploring and explaining the historical, cultural, and mechanical complexities of raucous burlesque comedy. Davis has rescued an art form - the art of Abbott & Costello and countless other comedy greats - from slipping into cultural anonymity." - Andrew L. Erdman, author of Blue Vaudeville

"Davis has gone well beyond peeling back and revealing historical and technical specifics of burlesque comedy and has forged an invaluable work of desired reading for comics, comedians, and clowns." - Hovey Burgess, Master Teacher of Circus, New York University and Dramaturg, Circus Flora, USA

"Both funny and informative. Davis writes about the old-style shticks, bits, and routines as if he were dancing in front of you. Or maybe better yet, alongside of you. He brings this lost world to life in a vivid and memorable way." - Rachel Shteir, Associate Professor of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, DePaul University, USA and author of Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show

About the Author

Andrew Davis is Adjunct Assistant Professor at Otis College of Art and Design, USA.
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Product Details

  • Series: Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2011 edition (October 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230116795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230116795
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,183,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Karl on November 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
[N.B., the four star rating isn't meant to point up any shortcoming in the book. It's just that I make it a rule to reserve five stars for those really peerless expressions of the human spirit, such as HAMLET, the Bible, OEDIPUS REX, the DIVINE COMEDY, and the first season of THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW.]

Anyone who's ever seen Bert Lahr or Phil Silvers or Jackie Gleason, or heard Abbott and Costello do "Who's on First", or seen the sketch "Slowly I Turned" (tackled by Abbott and Costello, Lucille Ball, the Three Stooges, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, Danny Thomas, and others over the years) has been exposed to burlesque comedy, often unknowingly.... Well, be unknowing no longer: This really wonderful book gives you an authoritative rundown of the history and mechanics of burlesque, while also providing what is probably the largest collection of burlesque sketch/blackout scripts in print.

BAGGY PANTS COMEDY is packed with interesting detail that illuminates many aspects of its subject and corrects a few myths. (Yes, I'm one of those who had always heard-- and believed-- that the straightman earned more than the comic.)

This is an "academic" book of course, but it's mercifully short on academese. Yes, sure, there are citations from books and articles like LITERACY AND ORALITY, "Liminal to Liminoid in Play, Flow, and Ritual" and, of course, "The Binary Structure of 'Unsuccessful Repetition" in Lithuanian Folk Tales." That's all fine, but be assured that it's never very long before the author is back to telling us something like how "Pflugel Street" was developed.

The writing is crisp and lucid, the photographs interesting, and you can learn all about scenes like "Handful of Nickels", "Ding Dong", and "Come Under the Bed." What's not to like? I only wish this book were longer.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Davis is to be commended for his exhaustive research and nicely writen book on the origins of burlesque comedy. I often am perplexed when comedians who came from burlesque are misidentified as "vaudville" performers. This is a scholarly book and is not a quick read if you are looking for a book filled with "blue" jokes. Mr. Davis does a great job on explaining how the basic scenes in burlesque evolved. Burlesque was still somewhat viable as I was coming of age and used to enjoy the gal shows but the comics were interesting and some either VERY funny or simply awful.

This book is a must for serious students of how burlesque comedy evolved. I think todays commedy clubs have taken the place of burlesque as the "boot camp" for aspiring comedians. Burlesque gave comedians basic routines to work from but these routines varied by a lot of adlibing and different timing. The comedy at my favorite burlesque theater the Town Hall in Toledo Ohio was pretty good, this venue was owned by the late Rose LaRose who was a star in her own right. At the National Theater in Detroit Michigan a very funny comic, Scurvey Miller always had the guys laughing. When I see the filthy jokes at some comedy clubs it makes burlesque appropriate for the kiddies.

Anyway Mr. Davis you took a overlooked subject and I thoroughly recommend your book to theater history buffs as well as working and aspiring comics. Don't buy the book if you are looking for dirty jokes, this is a serious look at the evolution of comedy.
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By B. Stigler on December 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great read.
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