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On the Real Side: A History of African American Comedy
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On the Real Side: A History of African American Comedy

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  32 ratings  ·  6 reviews
This comprehensive history of black humor sets it in the context of American popular culture. Blackface minstrelsy, Stepin Fetchit, and the Amos ’n’ Andy show presented a distorted picture of African Americans; this book contrasts this image with the authentic underground humor of African Americans found in folktales, race records, and all-black shows and films. After gene ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 1995)
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J.M. Hushour
I'm a huge Richard Pryor fan and I'll be shallow and admit that I bought this book years ago solely because he was on the cover. I've passed over it for years but I'm circling the steaming carrion of a novel I want to write about a stand-up comedian so I thought I'd finally give it a whirl.
Let me just say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this book. I'll explain my personal three-star rating in a moment.
Watkins does a fine job taking us back, pretty much to distant West Africa to show
Diann Blakely
Lawrence Hill, perhaps the best independent presses specializing in African-American literature, published this updated edition of Mel Watkins' ON THE REAL SIDE: A HISTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN COMEDY FROM SLAVERY TO CHRIS ROCK around the millennium. Watkins, a former editor of the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, uses humor as a lens for exploring American race relations. "For a vulnerable black minority," he writes, "surreptitiousness and trickery were the principal defenses against repression." The ...more
Great historical account of black comedy and comedians
This book is one of my favorite history books of all time. It has all the elements I like: a history that is not about the dominant culture, that takes a unique approach to understanding history, and provides connections between the approach and the larger questions confronting American society. The jokes are really funny as you learn the history of African American comedy and show business. Really great.
A truly amazing book. Obligatory for anyone interested in american culture, humor and in the ways opressed groups find to subvert the negative image that the ruling class establishes around them.
John senesy
While this book was interesting and informative it fell into the trap that many books of its type can not seem to bypass: it reads like a text book. There is almost no personality to the book.
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