Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Make 'Em Laugh!: American Humorists of the 20th and 21st Centuries

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Make 'Em Laugh!: American Humorists of the 20th and 21st Centuries

Article excerpt

Make 'em Laugh!: American Humorists of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Ed. by Zeke Jarvis. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2015. 322 pages. acid free $89 (ISBN: 978-14408-2994-9). E-book available (978-1-4408-2995-6), call for pricing.

While books about comedy often strip all the life out of it, good books about comedy are a useful resource for learning about key performers, for analysis of comedy trends, and for discovery of little-known works one may have missed. Unfortunately, Make 'em Laugh!: American Humorists of the 20th and 21st Centuries is not one of those good books about comedy.

The volume's purpose is to examine "the issues of craft and technique found in each artist's work as well as the social significance of these artists and their work" (xvi). A lengthy introduction provides an essay on various cultural aspects of humor, though it is puzzling why the editor chose to include references to literary and cultural figures who do not have entries in the book (Edna St. Vincent Millay, e.e. cummings, W.C. Field, and Shirley Temple, to name a few). The book is organized in several sections: literature, popular writing (which includes comic strips), television and film, and stand up and performance. …

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