American Cornball is Christopher Miller's irresistibly funny
illustrated survey of popular humor--the topics that used to make
us laugh, from hiccups and henpecked-husbands to outhouses and old
maids--and what it tells us about our country yesterday and
Miller revisits nearly 200 comic staples that have been passed
down through our culture for generations, many originating from the
vaudeville age. He explores the (often unseemly) contexts from
which they arose, why they were funny in their time, and why they
eventually lost their appeal. The result is a kind of taxonomy of
humor during America's golden age that provides a deeper, more
profound look at the prejudices, preoccupations, and peculiarities
of a nation polarized between urban and rural, black and white,
highborn and lowbrow.
As he touches on issues of racism and sexism, cultural
stereotypes and violence, Miller reveals how dramatically our moral
sensibilities have shifted, most notably in the last few decades.
Complete with more than 100 period illustrations, American Cornball
is a richly entertaining survey of our shifting comic universe.
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