By Arthur Power Dudden
The paramount query replied during this soaking up number of essays is: what is so humorous approximately American humor, and why? What are American humor's features? How have they advanced and displayed themselves? Which features are distinctively, or maybe uniquely, American? initially showing as a subject matter of the yank Quarterly, those essays take an in depth examine American humor from progressive instances to the current day, and especially specialise in the missed tendencies of the previous fifty years. American comedian figures as diverse--and even surprising--as Mark Twain and Richard Nixon, at quite a few automobiles for American humor reminiscent of comedian strips, radio and tv, video clips, and standup comedians, and at varied genres of humor together with political, ethnic, and feminist humor, this publication brings a full of life new viewpoint to the research of yankee tradition.
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Extra info for American Humor
Frances Miriam Whitcher, The Widow Bedott Papers (1856), rpt. in Walter Blair's Native American Humor (1937; rpt. New York: Chandler, 1960), 271 72. '' The comic plight, on the other hand, of the unwilling listener, trapped into hearing details about which he simply has no interest and gradually enmeshed in the spreading web of fact and anecdote, proved a fresh if reliable predicament in Twain's fiction. In its drollest variants he dramatizes the captive hearer's torture with tender solicitude.
20 John Trumbull and his fellow Wits, like many other Americans of the revolutionary generation, were saddled with all the implicit contradictions that accompanied a successful political revolution that was not, and not even intended to be, a cultural revolution. The business of establishing political independence from Britain was a relatively easy matter compared with the more subtle, ambivalent, and tortuous task of establishing some sort of imaginative independence. It is an unpleasing and ultimately unprofitable task simply to dwell upon the derivative qualities of Trumbull's satiric verse or to trace similar signs of poetic belatedness in the works of the other Connecticut 19.
In theory the Wits should have been more successful than they were: the rise of satire in American newspapers before and during the Revolution suggests an audience eager for and responsive to satire,21 and the Wits could claim for themselves not only personal energy and precocious ability, but, thanks to the Revolution, great issues and occasions for satire as well. Moreover, satire should do well in unsettled times—recall that most participants in the Revolution and its aftermath learned to fear American anarchy as much as English oppression22—simply because satire is well suited to the needs of writers (and readers) who know what they are against, though not necessarily what they are for.
American Humor by Arthur Power Dudden