18 May Recommendation – The Comedians
If you’ve read the synopsis for “The Comedians” you know, pretty quickly, whether this book is going to snag you or not.
When Nesteroff touts “the History of American Comedy”, he’s not being hyperbolic. This book is exhaustively researched but at no point did it feel exhaustive. The flow is well thought out, the tidbits extremely juicy and the whole more than the sum of its parts.
If I have a complaint it’s that Nesteroff’s area of intrest seems to be in the distant past and he faulters a bit once getting into the 80s and 90s. Podcasts (which some call the next great comedy boom) are given a glance and not more and some points that seemed like it should have been in there (Comic Relief, The Apatow canon, The Simpsons) are nowhere to be seen. However, that’s more than made up for in the first two thirds of the book, which get into the guts of what made comedy a business and eventually a foundational layer of American culture.
Definitely recommended. One caveat – this book is so thoroughly footnoted its ending took my by complete surprise. I read it on a Kindle which said I was roughly 65 percent done when the book ended. More than a third of the book are footnotes, sources cited and bibliography. While that gets into the level of detail you can find in this book, it’s a bit jarring if you read it on the Kindle.