In The Comedians, comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff brings to life a century of American comedy with real-life characters, forgotten stars, mainstream heroes, and counterculture iconoclasts. Based on over 200 original interviews and extensive archival research, Nesteroff's groundbreaking work is a narrative exploration of the way comedians have reflected, shaped, and changed American culture over the past 100 years.
Starting with the vaudeville circuit at the turn of the last century, Nesteroff introduces the first stand-up comedian - an emcee who abandoned physical shtick for straight jokes. After the repeal of Prohibition, Mafia-run supper clubs replaced speakeasies, and mobsters replaced vaudeville impresarios as the comedian's primary employer. In the 1950s, the late-night talk show brought stand-up to a wide public, while Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, and Jonathan Winters attacked conformity and staged a comedy rebellion in coffeehouses. From comedy's part in the Civil Rights movement and the social upheaval of the late 1960s to the first comedy clubs of the 1970s and the cocaine-fueled comedy boom of the 1980s, The Comedians culminates with a new era of media-driven celebrity in the 21st century.
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Well researched, patchy performance...
I enjoyed learning about the history, the pilgrims, the heartbreaks and successes of 20th century comedy in the U.S.
The vocalizations were inconsistent throughout-a passable Mel Brooks devolves into indistinguishable characters, some that most listeners will have no reference for.The Danish shopkeeper left me wondering if the narrator had ever heard any Scandinavian language. Many other characters had no voice overs at all. Some words were misused and mispronounced with occasional incoherent mumbling. Energetic and inspired, but needed more professional editing and contribution.
I enjoyed and appreciated the work but it would have benefitted from more distinct characters.
- horace w.
From Buster Keaton to Robin Williams and everything in between
- Dan Booth Cohen