Next Episode of The History of Comedy is
The History of Comedy explores what makes people laugh – from the Ancient Greeks, to Shakespeare, Vaudeville, to the biggest contemporary comedians, movies and TV shows. It digs deep into topics like political humor and slapstick, featuring the voices that have made us laugh over the generations. Using archival footage, original comedic material, interviews with comedy legends and luminaries, the series showcase how the art form has evolved over the years.
Some of the very first "stars" of comedy came from the minds and pencils of talented animators. From Felix the Cat to Mickey Mouse and Popeye to Bugs Bunny, animated comedy dates back to the earliest part of the last century and continues to attract audiences today. Television programs like The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy, and Beavis and Butt-Head paved the way for even more subversive and hilarious shows like South Park, Rick and Morty, and Bob's Burgers. Theatrical releases like Aladdin, Shrek, and Toy Story proved that audiences didn't have to physically see comic legends like Robin Williams, Mike Myers and Tim Allen to fully appreciate them.
An exploration of the ways the deaths of comedic legends affect their audiences and comedy in general and how that connection makes the loss more significant. Comedic performers connect with their audiences in a unique and personal way, so when one of them is gone too soon, the loss can feel more profound. Whether it be comedic legends like John Candy, Phil Hartman, Bill Hicks, John Belushi, Chris Farley, and Gilda Radner, or lesser-known comics like Patrice O'Neal, Greg Giraldo, Harris Wittels, and Mitch Hedberg, their voice is gone prematurely. Even when a comedian has been with us for a long time like George Carlin, Garry Shandling, and Joan Rivers, it still feels as if they had a lot more to say.
Comedy teams have always been an important part of classic comedy – think Laurel & Hardy, Abbot and Costello, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Martin and Lewis, and Nichols and May. The tradition of comedic teams has continued over the decades with the examples of Cheech and Chong, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, the Blues Brothers, and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It continues to reinvent itself today in the form of sketch teams like Key and Peele, musical acts like Garfunkel and Oates, and twin brother stand-up team, the Lucas Brothers.
There has always been a need for family-friendly comedy, and many artists have taken the task despite the inherent challenges. Comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, Ellen DeGeneres and Sinbad found success on stage "working clean." For comedians like Bob Saget, Tim Allen, and Whitney Cummings, they found themselves altering their comedic voices when they landed lead roles on network sitcoms. Writers for television shows across every era – from I Love Lucy and In Living Color, to Will & Grace and Modern Family have always found creative ways to use euphemisms and innuendo, while still abiding by the rules set by the what were often strict network censors.
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