Mixed Nuts: America's Love Affair with Comedy Teams : from Burns and Allen to Belushi and Aykroyd

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PublicAffairs, 2004 - History - 305 pages
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From nineteenth-century vaudeville to contemporary sitcoms, comedy teams have made people laugh. Those teams were masters of the comic craft and gave to the world a particularly American art form. And, more than that, they were funny.

Lawrence J. Epstein has written a joyful, celebratory history of America's finest comedy teams from Burns and Allen and Laurel and Hardy through the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to the Smothers Brothers and beyond. It's a story of the classics of comedy and, at the moment of the apparent eclipse of comedy teams, of their unexpected rebirth.

Although for comedians success is fickle and failure brutal, comedy teams couldn't resist the lure of celebrity and the remarkable explosion of the popular media of radio, film, and television. These were platforms from which to speak to an emerging nation in often troubled times; and when the times were hardest, the nation looked to its most cherished comic teams to cheer it up. Filled with telling anecdotes and hilarious routines, Mixed Nuts is the story of how America created comedy teams and how successive teams reflected America back to its people, meeting its deepest needs, tackling its most sensitive issues and mocking its pomposities. And always for laughs.

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About the author (2004)

Lawrence J. Epstein is an English professor and the author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America. He frequently lectures on American popular culture and lives with his wife and family on Long Island, New York.

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