[lit-ideas] Re: Scrushy and the King of Arkansas

  • From: david ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2005 21:08:59 -0800

On Dec 2, 2005, at 8:00 PM, Andy Amago wrote:

[Original Message]
From: david ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: 12/2/2005 9:30:49 PM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Scrushy and the King of Arkansas

When I taught my history of comedy class last year,

The history of comedy has to be so interesting. In times of great stress
comedy sometimes appears out of nowhere. In the movie Downfall that I saw
last week about the last days of Hitler and WWII, Germans would say to each
other that Berlin has turned into a warehouse. Where's my house, where's
your house they would say. Some say that laughter releases as much energy
as crying. Can you share some of the items that might have been on one of
the syllabuses?

A snippet:


Keith Cameron (ed), Humour and History
Gregg Camfield, Necessary Madness: The Humor of Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
Stephen Connor, Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism
Jim Dawson, Who Cut the Cheese? A Cultural History of the Fart
Penelope Fritzer, Merry Wives and Others: A History of Domestic Humor Writing
Christa Grossinger, Humour and Folly in Secular and Profane Prints
Wade Hall, Smiling Phoenix: Southern Humor From 1865
Heinz Henisch, Positive Pleasures: Early Photography and Humor
Patrick Houlihan, Wit and Humor in Ancient Egypt
Linda Martin and Kerry Segrave, Women in comedy; Funny Ladies from the Turn of the Century to the Present
Lesley Milne, Reflective Laughter: Aspects of Humour in Russian Culture
Janetta Rebold, Medieval Mischief, Wit and Humour in the Art of the Middle Ages
Ann Rubenstein, Bad Language, Naked Ladies, and Other Threats to the Nation: A Political History of Comic Books in Mexico
Barry Sanders, Sudden Glory, Laughter As Subversive History
Jerold Savory, The Smiling Muse: Victoriana in the Comic Press
Carrie Shook, Only in Virginia: The Unique History, Humor, and Heart of the Old Dominion
Mel Watkins, On the Real Side: A History of African American Comedy

Other Sources:
Anthologies, e.g.: Melville D. Landon et al, Wit and Humor of the Age, Comprising Wit, Humor, Pathos, Ridicule, Satires, Dialects, Puns, Conundrums, Riddles, Charades, Jokes and Magic (Albany, N.Y. 1889) also, Morris Bishop (ed), A Treasury of British Humor (1942) and--paradoxically--E. B. White and Katharine S. White, A Subtreasury of American Humor (1941). Finally, Alan Coren (ed) The Penguin Book of Modern Humour (1983)
Essays, e.g.: Michael Frayn, Speak After the Beep; Studies in the Art of Communicating With Inanimate and Semi-Animate Objects
Letters, e.g.: Malcolm Bradbury, Unsent Letters
Novels, e.g.: Peter Lefcourt, (Di and I) A Novel
Poetry, e.g.: Wendy Cope (ed): The Funny Side; 101 Humorous Poems
Satire, e.g.: James H. Boren, When in Doubt, Mumble: A Bureaucrat’s Handbook
Scripts, e.g.: From Approximately Coast to Coast...It’s the Bob and Ray Show
Theories. e.g.: Sigmund Freud, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious

Other, Other Sources (books you may not know and which are windows into an era):
George S. Chappell, Through the Alimentary Canal With Gun and Camera
Irvin S. Cobb, A Laugh A Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Alan Coren, Golfing for Cats
Frederick C. Crews, The Pooh Perplex
A. P. Herbert, Uncommon Law
Clive James, Glued to the Box
Walt Kelly, Pogo
Michael Marshall (ed), The Stanley Holloway Monologues
George Mikes, How to Be An Alien
Spike Milligan, Adolf Hitler, My Part in His Downfall
Neil Munro, Para Handy
C. Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson’s Law or the Pursuit of Progress
W.C.Sellar and R.J. Yeatman, 1066 and All That
Mark Spade, How to Run a Bassoon Factory or Business Explained
Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle, Molesworth
You should try to understand why Swift and Shakespeare and Boccaccio and Moliere and Stern and Pope and... were funny. Editors’ comments in anthologies will give you a starting point.
You may also want to investigate the twentieth century work of Douglas Adams, Bill Bryson, Mikhael Bulgakov, Jaroslav Hasek, Milan Kundera, David Lodge, Tom Robbins, Hunter Thompson, James Thurber, P.G. Wodehouse, Tom Wolfe.
And then, there are recordings, television and film. Can I really have reached this far and not mentioned Monty Python or Second City or...?

But this reading list gives you little sense of what we watched, who we listened to and discussed in the seminar. To reconstruct all that would take work.

David Ritchie
Portland, Oregon

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