Comedy Book: How Comedy Conquered Culture—and the Magic That Makes It Work

Farrar. Nov. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9780374604714. $29. HUMOR
Vulture editor Fox (host of the podcast Good One) covers the past 30 years of comedy in this engaging assessment of the art form. Relaying how he has seen Chris Rock bomb while performing stand up on three separate occasions, Fox discusses how vital the audience is for comedians testing new material. Sections about The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and right-leaning podcasts critique the political landscape and discuss how audiences have come to trust these outlets more than traditional news. A deep dive into Dave Chappelle’s career demonstrates how some comedians cross a line when they don’t heed to their audience’s calls to drop discriminatory and bigoted jokes from their acts. The book sufficiently utilizes research, interviews, and Fox’s own recollections to explore the evolution of comedy. Formats ranging from comedy clubs to TikTok videos receive the same reverence. A highlight is a breakdown of how one skit from Netflix’s I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson birthed thousands of memes—taking it out of context for more laughs.
VERDICT Covering a variety of styles, this book’s ode to comedy will entice readers who enjoy contemplative pop-culture reads.
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