The History of TV Comedy
Presenter: Brian Rose
This event will be held via Zoom; registration with a valid email address is required.
From Milton Berle to David Letterman: A History of TV Comedy
This presentation will survey the extraordinary landscape of American TV comedy, examining how comedy changed from the vaudeville shtick of Milton Berle and the slapstick artistry of Lucille Ball to the social satire of Saturday Night Live and the self-reflexive absurdities of David Letterman and The Simpsons.
From the earliest days of television, making people laugh was one the central goals of TV programmers. Successful radio formats like the sitcom and the comedy/variety show moved to television 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.