Author Kliph Nesteroff has come up with a terrific new book that chronicles the rise of stand up comedians from the turn of the the last century to the present day. The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy is an overview of American comedy covering comic actors, comedians, theatre and film from the late 19th century to the present.(Click here to reserve a copy from us.)
Nesteroff combined interviews he did with various comedians from the past six decades along with various articles and archival interviews by others to present an accurate and historical portrait of this country's brand of comedy. Starting from the vaudeville circuit and moving up to the Mob-controlled night club circuit, to television's early days and ending in the effect comedy clubs and cable TV have had on modern day audiences, Nesteroff covers a lot of informative ground.
There's the horror story of how comedian Joe E. Lewis had his throat cut for playing the wrong night club date. Milton Berle's stealing jokes. The bumpy genesis of the Tonight Show. Counterculture comics like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Richard Pyror coming out of the sixties. And how expanding comedy clubs in the 80s and 90s eventually led to HBO and Comedy Central showcasing comedians on cable.
TV fans will want to read about the contributions (good and bad) such comics as Jack Carter, Phil Silvers, Steve Allen, Danny Thomas, Joan Rivers, The Smothers Brothers, Don Rickles, Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, Stephen Colbert, and Louis C. K. made to the medium as well. The Comedians is a great (if too short) read from start to finish.
(Follow me on Twitter. And read Kliph Nesteroff's interviews over on his blog here.)