Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict Hardcover – 22 Sep 2006
by Paul Lewis (Author)
What do Jon Stewart, Freddy Krueger, Patch Adams, and George W. Bush have in common? As Paul Lewis shows in “Cracking Up,” they are all among the ranks of joke tellers who aim to do much more than simply amuse. Exploring topics that range from the sadistic mockery of Abu Ghraib prison guards to New Age platitudes about the healing power of laughter, from jokes used to ridicule the possibility of global climate change to the heartwarming performances of hospital clowns, Lewis demonstrates that over the past thirty years American humor has become increasingly purposeful and embattled.
Navigating this contentious world of controversial, manipulative, and disturbing laughter, “Cracking Up” argues that the good news about American humor in our time that it is delightful, relaxing, and distracting is also the bad news. In a culture that both enjoys and quarrels about jokes, humor expresses our most nurturing and hurtful impulses, informs and misinforms us, and exposes as well as covers up the shortcomings of our leaders. Wondering what s so funny about a culture determined to laugh at problems it prefers not to face, Lewis reveals connections between such seemingly unrelated jokers as Norman Cousins, Hannibal Lecter, Rush Limbaugh, Garry Trudeau, Jay Leno, Ronald Reagan, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Bill Clinton. The result is a surprising, alarming, and at times hilarious argument that will appeal to anyone interested in the ways humor is changing our cultural and political landscapes. ”
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: University of Chicago Press; annotated edition edition (22 Sept. 2006)
Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,326,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
“Lewis provides a guide for thinking about humor with the seriousness it deserves.”
“Lewis develops his analysis and arguments with specific references and examples enough to empower the reader to move out of the passive consumption of this humor and at least begin to understand critically one of the most baffling and important elements in American mass culture.”–Dennis Hall “Journal of American Culture ”
“The recognition that humor can reflect horror or hope makes “Cracking Up” a worthy exploration of the consequences of a joke. Whether saving lives or humiliating the helpless, humor culture is human culture.”–Gary Alan Fine “Common Review ”
About the Author
Paul Lewisisprofessor of English at Boston College. He is also the author of “Comic Effects: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Humor in Literature.”
A MUST for Horror Fans 9 Feb. 2010
By Dr Mitchell Earleywine – Published on Amazon.com
I know it sounds crazy, but anyone who loves horror needs to read this book. Trust me. The Intro alone sets a brilliant tone and clarifies that this is not just another rehash of the usual humor literature or a dry look at political jokes.
The first chapter, “One, Two, Freddy’s Coming for You” is one of the most insightful analyses of the teen slasher, Nightmare on Elm, Chucky, and serial killer flicks ever written in film or horror critique. “Freddy” then becomes a recurring theme as Lewis somehow manages to stay light by tossing bons mots into engaging discussions of pedophile priests, political correctness, Abu Ghraib, positive humor posers, and the worst president in modern memory. You’ll laugh, shiver, get grossed out, and think.