Revel with a Cause: Liberal Satire in Postwar America (Google eBook)

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University of Chicago Press, Jun 15, 2010 - Humor - 572 pages
4 Reviews
We live in a time much like the postwar era. A time of arch political conservatism and vast social conformity. A time in which our nation’s leaders question and challenge the patriotism of those who oppose their policies. But before there was Jon Stewart, Al Franken, or Bill Maher, there were Mort Sahl, Stan Freberg, and Lenny Bruce—liberal satirists who, through their wry and scabrous comedic routines, waged war against the political ironies, contradictions, and hypocrisies of their times.

Revel with a Cause is their story. Stephen Kercher here provides the first comprehensive look at the satiric humor that flourished in the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s. Focusing on an impressive range of comedy—not just standup comedians of the day but also satirical publications like MAD magazine, improvisational theater groups such as Second City, the motion picture Dr. Strangelove, and TV shows like That Was the Week That Was—Kercher reminds us that the postwar era saw varieties of comic expression that were more challenging and nonconformist than we commonly remember. His history of these comedic luminaries shows that for a sizeable audience of educated, middle-class Americans who shared such liberal views, the period’s satire was a crucial mode of cultural dissent. For such individuals, satire was a vehicle through which concerns over the suppression of civil liberties, Cold War foreign policies, blind social conformity, and our heated racial crisis could be productively addressed. 

A vibrant and probing look at some of the most influential comedy of mid-twentieth-century America, Revel with a Cause belongs on the short list of essential books for anyone interested in the relationship between American politics and popular culture.
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

A sweeping history of one aspect of the liberal critique against the McCarthyism and the Eisenhower Consensus of the 1950s. Kercher takes you from the editorial cartoons of Mauldin and Herblock ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

to balance out the moron

Contents

Liberal Satire in Postwar America
1
I The Positive Uses of Humor
13
II The Cleansing Lash of Laughter
75
III The Politics of Laughter
191
IV The Limits of Irreverence
343
Liberal Satires Last Laughs
425
Notes
447
Bibliography
543
Index
555
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Stephen Kercher is assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.

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