Vividly bringing to light the tradition of physical comedy in the French cabaret, cafe-concert, and early French film comedy, this book answers the perplexing question, "Why do the French love Jerry Lewis?" It shows how Lewis touches a nerve in the French cultural memory because, more than any other film comic, he incarnates a distinctively French tradition of performance style."
Well known for his slapstick comedic style, Jerry Lewis has also delighted worldwide movie audiences with a directing career spanning five decades. One of American cinema's great innovators, Lewis made unmistakably personal films that often focused on an ideal masculine image and an anarchic, manic acting out of the inability to assume this image. Films such as The Bellboy, The Errand Boy, Three on a Couch, and The Big Mouth present a series of thematic variations on this tension, in which such questions as how to be a man, how to be popular, and how to maintain relationships are posed within frameworks that set up a liberating and exhilarating confusion of roles and norms. The Nutty Professor and The Patsy are especially profound and painful examinations of the difficulty experienced by Lewis's character in reconciling loving himself and being loved by others. With sharp, concise observations, Chris Fujiwara examines this visionary director of self-referential comedic masterpieces. The book also includes an enlightening interview with Lewis that offers unique commentary on the creation and study of comedy.
“A treasure trove for any fan of Dean and Jerry, packed with valuable information, behind-the-scenes stories, and a dizzying array of rare photos. I couldn’t put this book down!” – Leonard Maltin Michael J. Hayde is the author of My Name’s Friday: The Unauthorized But True Story of Dragnet and the Films of Jack Webb, Chaplin’s Vintage Year: The History of the Mutual-Chaplin Specials and Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV’s Adventures of Superman.
A call to arms for creative freedom and critical thought, Art in Consumer Culture: Mis-Design asks the contemporary art world to be honest about the pervasive effects of commodification and the difficulty of staging critique. The book examines the collusion of art and design in the work of Murakami, Zittel, Kalkin, and Acconci, in order to find avenues of critique in a commercially driven cultural landscape.
Movie stars, entertainers, game-show hosts, jugglers, plate-spinners, gospel choirs, corporate executives posing with over-sized checks, household name-brand products, smiling children in leg braces-all were fixtures of the phenomenon that defined American culture in the second half of the twentieth century: the telethon. Hundreds of millions watched these weekend-long variety shows that raised billions of dollars for disability-related charities. Drawing on over two decades of in-depth research, Telethons trenchantly explores the complexity underneath the campy spectacles. At its center are the disabled children, who, thanks to a particular kind of historical-cultural marginalization, turned out to be ideal tools for promoting corporate interests, privatized healthcare, and class status. Offering a public message about helping these unfortunate victims, telethons perpetuated a misleading image of people with disabilities as helpless, passive, apolitical members of American society. Paul K. Longmore's revelatory chronicle shows how these images in fact helped major corporations increase their bottom lines, while filling gaps in the strange public-private hybrid U.S. health insurance system. Only once disabled people pushed back in public protests did the broader implications for all Americans become clear. Mining insights from great thinkers such as Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and Alexis de Tocqueville, along with contemporary cultural figures like Jerry Lewis, Ralph Nader, and several disability rights activists, Telethons offers a provocative meditation on big business, American government, popular culture, Cold War values, and "activism" both narrowly and broadly defined. As highly popular entertainment, telethons schooled Americans about how to feel about their bodies, fitness, health, and appropriate ways to interact with people whose bodies did not fit norms determined by advertisers. The programs also taught them about when to weep and how to cure guilt through "conspicuous contribution." Longmore's astute observations about psychology, economics, and society reveal how writing off telethons as kitsch and irrelevant has enabled many individual attitudes, corporate practices, and government policies to go unquestioned. Ultimately, Telethons reveals the passion, humanity, resistance, and triumph that were not center-stage on these popular telecasts by offering insights into the U.S. disability movement past and present.
What makes something funny? This book shows how humor can be analyzed without killing the joke. Alex Clayton argues that the brevity of a sketch or skit and its typical rejection of narrative development make it comedy-concentrate, providing a rich field for exploring how humor works. Focusing on a dozen or so skits and scenes, Clayton shows precisely how sketch comedy appeals to the funny bone and engages our philosophical imagination. He suggests that since humor is about persuading an audience to laugh, it can be understood as a form of rhetoric. Through vivid, highly readable analyses of individual sketches, Clayton illustrates that Aristotle's three forms of appeal—logos, the appeal to reason; ethos, the appeal to communality; and pathos, the appeal to emotion—can form the basis for illuminating the inner workings of humor. Drawing on both popular and lesser-known examples from the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere—Monty Python's Flying Circus, Key and Peele, Saturday Night Live, Airplane!, and Smack the Pony—Clayton reveals the techniques and resonances of humor.