Book Review by Mr. Johnson: The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy by Kliff Nesteroff
The Comedians is a very entertaining book that traces the evolution of comedy from early 20th-century vaudeville to the present. There are many humorous anecdotes about comedy legends Bob Hope, Jack Benny, George Carlin etc. as well as darker tales of racism, sexism, and alcohol/drug abuse from many other comedians. This book also explains how the different eras of US History such as the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War affected the style and content of comedy. Throughout the book, Nesteroff shows how comedy was changed as it went from vaudeville shows, through radio and TV, to the boom of the stand-up comedy clubs of the 1980s. The final chapter deals with the fear that many comedians had, that the events of 9-11 would alter comedy forever. This is a highly informative yet very easy to read book and I would also recommend someone to access youtube while reading it, so they can view the performances of many of the Comedians.