Radio Comedy

Radio Comedy

3.8 (5 ratings by Goodreads)
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Radio Comedy is a fascinating journey into the recent past of American popular culture, an exploration of radio's Golden Age of humor. Bringing together excerpts from the transcripts of shows that helped define a period, and offering many rare studio photographs, it brings to life once again the excitement that radio generated among American audiences of the 30s and 40s. Wertheim recaptures the uproarious comedy of Amos 'n' Andy, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Bob Hope, and Will Rogers, as well as the small town humor of programs such as Fibber McGee and Molly and Vic and Sade, showing how and why they became such a craze during the Great Depression and World War II eras. He also explores the relationship of social history to radio comedy, demonstrating how some shows reflected on the events occuring in America and afforded listeners not only an escape from reality, but a running commentary on society in a form the public could accept. Particularly incisive, and couched in accessible, readable language, this book reveals how radio comedy was both a traditional and innovative form of American humor. While resembling the frontier humor of the comic braggart, and borrowing from vaudeville stage comedy, radio comedy also fashioned an entirely new type of humor especially suited to the new sound medium. Telling the compelling story of an exciting era of entertainment, Radio Comedy also helps illuminate the roots of today's gigantic show business industry. For anyone interested in American popular culture, it is essential more

Product details

  • Paperback | 452 pages
  • 132.08 x 200.66 x 27.94mm | 408.23g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • halftones, bibliography
  • 0195079183
  • 9780195079180

Review Text

Humor doesn't travel very well, especially from the telling to the printed page. In this survey of radio humor, some of the medium's most memorable jokes lie parched and dusty, leaving even a reader who heard them the first time around to wonder why they were ever considered funny. It is this ephemeral and fragile quality of comedy - plus the advent of television - that spelled the demise of the radio comedian. The author, a history professor, recalls rather pedantically the short, brilliant history of the famous jokesmiths, from Amos 'n' Andy in the late Thirties to "The Charlie McCarthy Show" of 1956, for which CBS could not find a sponsor. By that time, most of the major stars - Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Red Skelton - had made a successful transition to TV. Along the way, we are introduced to the early performers - Easy Aces, Fibber McGee and Molly, Burns and Allen, Vic and Sade - and to such radio novae as Joe Penner, Jack Pearl, and Stoopnagle and Budd, along with the revered Fred Allen. Professor Wertheim offers thumbnail sketches of the major stars as well as samples of their sketch material, but his most useful service is in tracing the way radio comedy, which was relentlessly aimed at the middle class, changed and developed with such social phenomena as the Depression and World War II. But there is not much humor here. Once a joke has been explained, put in its proper social context, its teller profiled and a footnote appended, the inclination to laughter is stifled. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Arthur Frank Wertheim

About the Author Arthur Frank Wertheim is the editor of The Papers of Will Rogers, a multi-volume edition of the humorist's writings sponsored by the Will Rogers Memorial at Claremore Oklahoma. He is also a Senior Writer at the University of California, Los Angeles and the other of numerous books, including The New York Little Renaissance, American Popular Culture: A Histoical Bibliography, and Will Rogers and the Ziegfeld more

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5 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
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4 80% (4)
3 20% (1)
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