American Cornball
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American Cornball : A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny

4.04 (69 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

American Cornball is Christopher Miller's irresistibly funny illustrated survey of popular humor--the topics that used to make us laugh, from hiccups and henpecked-husbands to outhouses and old maids--and what it tells us about our country yesterday and today.

Miller revisits nearly 200 comic staples that have been passed down through our culture for generations, many originating from the vaudeville age. He explores the (often unseemly) contexts from which they arose, why they were funny in their time, and why they eventually lost their appeal. The result is a kind of taxonomy of humor during America's golden age that provides a deeper, more profound look at the prejudices, preoccupations, and peculiarities of a nation polarized between urban and rural, black and white, highborn and lowbrow.

As he touches on issues of racism and sexism, cultural stereotypes and violence, Miller reveals how dramatically our moral sensibilities have shifted, most notably in the last few decades. Complete with more than 100 period illustrations, American Cornball is a richly entertaining survey of our shifting comic universe.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 544 pages
  • 154 x 206 x 44mm | 859.99g
  • English
  • New.
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0062225170
  • 9780062225177
  • 1,826,377

Back cover copy

Why do anvils fall from the sky?

And backseat drivers make us cry?

What do these old jokes mean?

The answers are in American Cornball, a hysterical illustrated survey of things that used to make us laugh. From hiccups and henpecked husbands to outhouses and old maids, Christopher Miller revisits nearly 200 comic staples, their (often unseemly) origins, why they were funny then, and why they're not so funny now. The result is a grand tour of the era between vaudeville and TV--a world of black and white, highborn and lowbrow, witty and wacky, the awkward and the sublime. Complete with more than 200 period illustrations, American Cornball is a masterwork of cultural excavation . . . and a genuine laff riot.
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Review quote

"Miller's thick tome, organized encyclopedically, is discursive, illuminating, and erudite."--boingboing.com, best 2014 books for nerds
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Rating details

69 ratings
4.04 out of 5 stars
5 33% (23)
4 45% (31)
3 14% (10)
2 7% (5)
1 0% (0)
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