Essays on comedy?
January 8, 2012 4:05 AM   Subscribe

I am interested in clever analyses of contemporary comedy. Any recommendations?

I am a big fan of strange and genius comedy. I love watching it and I think so much about it and what exactly it is that makes it so funny. I long to read clever academic essays deconstructing the kinds of comedy that I love. Searching on google for this kind of thing yields nothing. Does anyone know of anything that I could read along these lines?

(I am not interested in reading about the jokes in prime time sitcoms. I am interesting in reading about obscurer, weirder comedy. For the record, my current comedic obsession is Tim and Eric. I ACHE for them and would love to read someone cleverer than me analyse what the hell makes them so funny.)
posted by saturn~jupiter to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Steve Martin's most recent book covers some of that ground, specifically how he figured out what worked and didn't work.
posted by COD at 6:03 AM on January 8, 2012

Probably not exactly what you're looking for, but if you're that into comedy you'll probably like Marc Maron's WTF podcasts. Not academic, but they are interesting, in-depth interviews by someone who is very much a student of comedy and may give you some unique insight.
posted by jhs at 8:42 AM on January 8, 2012

One of my old professors wrote this book, Stand-up Comedy in Theory, or, Abjection in America, which may be what you're looking for. As the "abjection" in the title suggests, it's pretty academic/theoretical, but if that's ok you with you, it might be perfect.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:56 AM on January 8, 2012

Stewart Lee does a lot of this, writing books and articles on the craft of comedy as well as incorporating analysis and criticism into his stand up act.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

saturn~jupiter: through a recent post about Shit Girls Say (not funny) I discovered the humor-theory blogger Amanda Krauss (funny and smart) (archived blog).

I wish there was more lengthy analysis of cutting edge comedy, but I haven't really seen much online or the bookstores, and believe me, I'm looking too. The best stuff I've found is in the comment sections of metafilter often!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:57 AM on January 8, 2012

Ollie Double wrote a book about 15 years ago called Stand Up!, which includes analysis of comic performance prtactice of the time and an analysis of his own performances as well as some historical material. The focus is on what would at the time have been called "alternative comedy" and on British comedians. Obviously, the examples are a bit dated now, but it sound like the sort of thing that you want.
posted by Jabberwocky at 11:49 AM on January 8, 2012

You want this book:

It's exactly what you're looking for, I promise, just go get it right now.
posted by gribbly at 12:49 PM on January 8, 2012

Seconding Stewart Lee, whose comedy is deeply unusual anyway, almost a deconstruction of stand-up, and who has just released his second brilliant book annotating a transcript of one of his shows.
posted by Kirn at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The On Comedy series is fantastic if you're interested in craft, but it tends toward the traditional. It may not matter in comedy (and/or to you), since the mechanisms of humor are more generalized than comedic styles would otherwise indicate.
posted by rhizome at 1:44 PM on January 8, 2012

Thank you everyone, I can't wait to get my teeth stuck into these resources!
posted by saturn~jupiter at 3:35 PM on January 8, 2012

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