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Something To Laugh About: TV Comedy, From Milton Berle to David Letterman

Daytime Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0106
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$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
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David Letterman on the Late Show in New York City (Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Public Affairs)

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

From commercial television’s earliest days, making people laugh was a central goal of TV programmers. Successful radio formats like the situation comedy and the comedy-variety show were re-created for TV in the late 1940s, joined a few years later by the medium’s own innovation, the late-night comedy talk show. For the next seven decades, these three formats dominated the airwaves, led by brilliant comedians such as Sid Caesar, Jackie Gleason, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, and Jerry Seinfeld.

Media and communications expert Brian Rose surveys the extraordinary landscape of American TV comedy, examining how comedy evolved from the vaudeville shtick of Milton Berle and the slapstick artistry of Lucille Ball to relevant sitcoms like “All in The Family” and “M*A*S*H,” the social satire of “Saturday Night Live,” and the self-reflexive absurdities of David Letterman and “The Simpsons”.  

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.