Comedy at the Edge


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 Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America (Bloomsbury, 2008)

In the rock-n-roll 1970s, a new kind of outlaw hero emerged on the American cultural scene. Joining the guitar slingers and underground writers of the previous decade was an edgy mixture of social commentator and rock star: the stand-up comic. Inspired by the fearless Lenny Bruce, these innovators took the country by storm, turning the old borscht belt conventions on their head and reinventing a very American art form. Breakthrough comics like George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Robert Klein, and, later, Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, Robin Williams, and Andy Kaufman, packed nightclubs and concert halls, recorded bestselling albums, and became icons of cool. Richard Zoglin gives a backstage view of that outrageous time — a no-holds-barred, behind-the-scenes look at one of the most influential and tumultuous decades in American popular culture.

“Evocative…first-rate” ―Wall Street Journal

“Wise, concise, effortlessly erudite.” ―Boston Globe

“Mesmerizing. Incisive and often thrilling. Zoglin conducted meticulous and thorough research [and] manages to uncover new insights. A fun read.” ― New York Post  

“Somebody finally gets it. Zoglin, at long last, [has] written a book about a subject that has been hiding in plain sight for almost 40 years.  An irresistible read and a key book for understanding our era.” ― Jeff Simon, Buffalo News

“Thoughtful, witty and totally original in concept and execution, Comedy at the Edge is delicious reading–both as social history and as an edgy exploration of what makes us laugh in post-modern America.” ―Richard Schickel

“This is an amazing book, if you want to really put stand-up comedy into perspective, in terms of its roots, what it means, why it transitioned out of what was basically just basically clowns and comedians … It’s dense, it’s intelligent, the mythology is intact, and he really nails it.” — Marc Maron, WTF podcast

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