Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the best medicine

The Christmas gift that my friend Bean gave me is the companion book to the PBS miniseries "Make 'Em Laugh." The first two segments aired last Wednesday but I didn't get to them until the other day. Make sure you set your DVR to catch the rest of the episodes.

The series runs for six hours. There's another half hour available online, appropriately titled "Teh Internets." They also link to five classic viral videos. If you haven't already seen all five, you should have your Internet access revoked.

Last week on TV, they did an hour on "Nerds, Jerks & Oddballs" followed by an hour of "Breadwinners and Homemakers." This week's topics are "The Knockabouts" and "The Groundbreakers," which are about slapstick and freedom of speech respectively. The TV episodes are arranged in a different order than the chapters of the book. Some excerpts from the book can be found online, including most of the section on early radio comedy.

For someone like me, the show is fun piece of nostalgia. As a kid, I watched a lot of famous comedians from well before my time, so I was already familiar with Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and the like. "Make 'Em Laugh" shows clips that remind me of the movies and shows I've seen throughout my life. I'm not sure that I would be as entertained if I didn't know the source material. I find it interesting when they dissect the humor, but like frogs, the jokes get killed in the process.

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