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The Comedy Studies Reader

The Comedy Studies Reader

Surveying comedic texts and performers from The Jack Benny Program to Key and Peele, Saturday Night Live, and Stephen Colbert, this classroom-ready anthology offers a first-ever overview of the field of comedy studies.

August 2018
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310 pages | 6 x 9 | 12 b&w photos |

From classical Hollywood film comedies to sitcoms, recent political satire, and the developing world of online comedy culture, comedy has been a mainstay of the American media landscape for decades. Recognizing that scholars and students need an authoritative collection of comedy studies that gathers both foundational and cutting-edge work, Nick Marx and Matt Sienkiewicz have assembled The Comedy Studies Reader.

This anthology brings together classic articles, more recent works, and original essays that consider a variety of themes and approaches for studying comedic media—the carnivalesque, comedy mechanics and absurdity, psychoanalysis, irony, genre, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and nation and globalization. The authors range from iconic theorists, such as Mikhail Bakhtin, Sigmund Freud, and Linda Hutcheon, to the leading senior and emerging scholars of today. As a whole, the volume traces two parallel trends in the evolution of the field—first, comedy’s development into myriad subgenres, formats, and discourses, a tendency that has led many popular commentators to characterize the present as a “comedy zeitgeist”; and second, comedy studies’ new focus on the ways in which comedy increasingly circulates in “serious” discursive realms, including politics, economics, race, gender, and cultural power.


Fort Collins, Colorado

Marx is an assistant professor of media studies at Colorado State University.

Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Sienkiewicz is an associate professor of communication and international studies at Boston College.