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Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 2, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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About the Author
Laurence Maslon is an associate arts professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. With Michael Kantor, he coauthored two episodes of the Broadway series and served as its senior adviser. He also wrote the American Masters biography of Richard Rodgers and edited the Library of America edition of George S. Kaufman's comedies. He lives in New York City and on the North Fork of Long Island.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is separated into six chapters that explore different styles of comedy. There is lots of overlap, of course -- Harpo Marx would be at home in the "Oddball" segment, and Jon Stewart is certainly a "Smart-Aleck" -- but this convention makes it easy to put similar comedians together, and focus on why what they do makes us laugh.
There is lots of comedy here. The book is peppered with transcripts of comedy routines and television shows. Quotes from people in the industry, including writers, producers and other comedians, provide insight to what makes performers tick. Rare archival material includes a full page detailing The Sketch That Couldn't Be Done, written by Elaine May for The Smothers Brothers (it was considered in bad taste). If you want to know George Carlin's seven dirty words, they're all here.
In a sweeping book like this, lots will be left out. But I have a few personal peeves. The only mention of one of my favorites, Red Skelton, is to diss him in the segment about Buster Keaton: "(Keaton) spent the next two decades doing what work he could get as an off-camera gagman for stars like Red Skelton, who couldn't hold a candle to Keaton." Animated classic film comedies from Pixar such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo are ignored. And Garry Shandling merits only a mention in the Gilda Radner section, instead of being in a spotlight for The Larry Sanders Show. Worst of all, women are passed over routinely for guys: there are segments on 53 male comedians versus 9 for women.Read more ›
From the turn of the century to well into the 20th Century, we had the "slip on the banana peel" gag artists such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx brother, the three Stooges, Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis, and more recently, Jim Carey.
Then came the "Sock it to me satire and parody artists" - beginning with Will Rogers and ending with Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. Within this category also were included: Sid Caesar, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks and the Waynans Brothers.
W.C. Fields heads up the "Smart Alecks and Wise guys category," with Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, Redd Foxx, Joan Rivers and Eddie Murphy rounding out the field. Then we get the "Nerd and Jerks," with Bob Hope and two of my favorites -- Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams -- among the standouts.
The "Breadwinners and Homemakers category" seems a bit contrived and was a "catchbag" assortment that included: "The Goldbergs," George Burns and Gracie Allen, The Honeymooners, The Dick Van Dyke Show, All in the Family, Roseanne, Bill Cosby, Seinfeld and my least favorite comedy show, The Simpsons.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful gift. This is a "coffee table" type volume, but in this case, the photos are worth the bulk. Read morePublished 21 months ago by MizzMary
The book divides America's comedic genuises into categories, such as "nerds, jerks, oddballs, and slackers." "breadwinners and homemakers," etc. Read morePublished on December 10, 2013 by Elaine P.
you already know the Book is a classic when you have the Genius of Charlie Chaplin and the Genius of Richard Pryor splitting the face picture on the cover. Read morePublished on March 12, 2012 by MAXIMILLIAN MUHAMMAD
I must say that I fell in love with this book when I purchased it. My English assignment essay was about comedy and I could not get a better book than this. Read morePublished on November 5, 2011 by Andy
Loved this book for its panoramic view of comedy as part of America's unique culture dating from the early 20th century. Read morePublished on March 7, 2011 by Maura A. Sweeney
A really good read. Make 'em Laugh provides excellent commentary on many of the people who made America and the world laugh. Read morePublished on August 27, 2009 by Conor Cunneen