Laughing matters

Understanding film, television and radio comedy

Authors: John Mundy and Glyn White

This book is a wide-ranging introductory academic book for students and teachers interested in studying comedy on film, television and radio (and for anyone else with an analytic interest in these media). It discusses key issues around comedy through analysis of significant and revealing comedy texts from these media. The first part of the book looks at how comedy works. In order to do this, it considers the nature of comedy as manifested in specific media forms, from the exploitation of the non-visual in radio to the familiar, domesticated settings suited to television's small screen. It examines the historical, industrial and cultural contexts in which British and American comedy in film, radio and television developed (in that order). The book also deals with gender, sexuality and comedy, ranging from the depictions of femininity and masculinity in romantic comedy film to the representations offered of gay and lesbian characters across our chosen media. Studies of low British comedy and American gross-out comedy underpin work on specific examples which directly challenge standards of taste and cultural taboos. Whatever the nature and effect of racial and ethnic humour, it is clear that there have been some significant shifts in the ways in which radio, television and film comedy have presented or inflected it over time. The book deals with broad case studies of British and American culture.

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