Monday, April 21, 2008

Comdey at the Edge: How Stand-Up in the 1970s Changed America

The best stand-up comics make their audiences completely forget that there's a staggering amount of work that goes into crafting an act. Through the 1950s, comedy was dominated by the so-called "borscht belt" comedians - the one-liners that traveled venues in upstate New York with their stale, relatively safe fare. It took a generation of comics like Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor to craft the biting social commentary and interactive, experimental performances we see today.
This book, by Richard Zoglin, takes us through that process. It's a little gushy at times, but offers up a who's who of the notables, even those who weren't necessarily famous. It should be of interest to fans of stand-up.


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