Skip to main content
This program is over. Hope you didn't miss it!

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

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0106
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
Select your Tickets
Powered by Zoom

David Letterman on the Late Show in New York City (Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Public Affairs)

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”.  

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.