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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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328 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.


MPCA/ACA's Best Edited Collection Award, 2020


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.


“An expertly conceived collection that proves both familiar and new...The Comedy Studies Reader expertly follows through on its promise for scholars—providing a clear invitation to play, to revisit old streets and explore new territories under the sheltering sky of comedy studies.”
Studies in American Humor

“Nick Marx and Matt Sienkiewicz showcase an incredible collection of essays from writers and academics that analyze comedy through a variety of political and social lenses. In doing so, they make it clear that comedy is art and should be treated as such. Comedy not only reflects society but shapes it. This is essential reading.”
Hari Kondabolu, writer, comedian, and executive producer of The Problem with Apu

“There has never been a good collection that included the pieces I wanted to assign ever since I started teaching humor and satire fifteen years ago. But now there is. This book provides a very accessible, one-stop shop of foundational and original work for teachers and students of comedy.”
Viveca S. Greene, Hampshire College, coeditor of A Decade of Dark Humor: How Comedy, Irony, and Satire Shaped Post-9/11 America

“This book is one of a kind, hugely valuable, with highly accessible yet provocative essays. It should be highly sought after in media studies programs, helping students and scholars find a foundation in comedy concepts before taking on longer studies.”
Derek Kompare, Southern Methodist University, coeditor of Making Media Work: Cultures of Management in the Entertainment Industries


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca