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Publisher's Summary

In The Comedians, comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff brings to life a century of American comedy with real-life characters, forgotten stars, mainstream heroes, and counterculture iconoclasts. Based on over 200 original interviews and extensive archival research, Nesteroff's groundbreaking work is a narrative exploration of the way comedians have reflected, shaped, and changed American culture over the past 100 years.

Starting with the vaudeville circuit at the turn of the last century, Nesteroff introduces the first stand-up comedian - an emcee who abandoned physical shtick for straight jokes. After the repeal of Prohibition, Mafia-run supper clubs replaced speakeasies, and mobsters replaced vaudeville impresarios as the comedian's primary employer. In the 1950s, the late-night talk show brought stand-up to a wide public, while Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, and Jonathan Winters attacked conformity and staged a comedy rebellion in coffeehouses. From comedy's part in the Civil Rights movement and the social upheaval of the late 1960s to the first comedy clubs of the 1970s and the cocaine-fueled comedy boom of the 1980s, The Comedians culminates with a new era of media-driven celebrity in the 21st century.

©2015 Kliph Nesteroff. Some of the material herein is based on Kliph Nesteroff's work with WFMU's Beware of the Blog and Classic Television Showbiz. Recorded by arrangement with Grove Atlantic, Inc. (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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From Buster Keaton to Robin Williams and everything in between

Thoroughly entertaining and informative. The funniest line is about Red Button's wife. If you don't learn something new about Harry Einstein and his sons, you must be old and a Friar.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent

loved the book. if you love history you will enjoy it. it talks about comedy in radio, TV and stand up among others. great read.

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Well researched, patchy performance...

What did you love best about The Comedians?

I enjoyed learning about the history, the pilgrims, the heartbreaks and successes of 20th century comedy in the U.S.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The vocalizations were inconsistent throughout-a passable Mel Brooks devolves into indistinguishable characters, some that most listeners will have no reference for.The Danish shopkeeper left me wondering if the narrator had ever heard any Scandinavian language. Many other characters had no voice overs at all. Some words were misused and mispronounced with occasional incoherent mumbling. Energetic and inspired, but needed more professional editing and contribution.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed and appreciated the work but it would have benefitted from more distinct characters.

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good of a fan of comedy

Enjoyed it a great deal. Longtime fan of comedy and felt it was a fairly thorough review. Chronologically told.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful account of the last 120 years of comedy

k
Kliph Nesteroff has chronicled the ins and outs of the world of comics and the business of comedy.
My only complaint about the performance is that Kliph mangles many words that he should - or his editor should - know better how to pronounce. It tended to take me out of the story when it happened.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Strangely depressing

Would you try another book from Kliph Nesteroff and/or Kliph Nesteroff?

It would depend entirely on the topic.

Do you think The Comedians needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. It seemed to cover things pretty completely.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful