The History of Sketch Comedy: A Journey Through the Art and Craft of Humor

Chronicle. Oct. 2023. 300p. ISBN 9781797216836. $29.95. HUMOR
This entertaining journey follows sketch comedy through a range of historic periods, from ancient Greek theater to modern social media. The book itself reads like a sketch compilation, with each chapter containing a combination of short, humorous pieces. Historic facts are interspersed with stories from the Emmy- and Peabody-winning actor/writer/producer’s personal experiences, snippets from screenplays, and his partner’s original art. There are also essays from prominent comedic artists, such as Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chris Rock, and Jordan Peele. History is only part of the book; comedic reflections and funny tangential stories make up more than half of the material, but it isn’t just setups and punchlines. Readers will gain genuine insight into how sketch comedy has evolved and what’s behind the creative process. The writing style is meant to be amusing and informational, not academic. Due to the absence of references and citations, libraries looking to provide materials for research assignments should look elsewhere.
VERDICT A great addition to popular reading collections. Recommended for sketch comedy and improv enthusiasts and fans of Key & Peele skits.
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