Make 'em Laugh!
American Humorists of the 20th and 21st Centuries
by Zeke Jarvis, Editor
April 2015, 322pp, 7x10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-2994-9
$108, £84, 94€, A148
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-2995-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Many prominent humorists have had their books banned.

This lighthearted and eye-opening book explores the role of comedy in cultural and political critiques of American society from the past century.

This unprecedented look at the history of satire in America showcases the means by which our society is informed by humor—from the way we examine the news, to how we communicate with each other, to what we seek out for entertainment. From biographical information to critical reception of material and personalities, the book features humorists from both literary and popular culture settings spanning the past 100 years.

Through its 180 entries, this comprehensive volume covers a range of artists—individuals such as Joan Rivers, Hunter S. Thompson, and Chris Rock—and topics, including vaudeville, cartoons, and live performances. The content is organized by media and genre to showcase connections between writers and performers. Chapters include an alphabetical listing of humorists grouped by television and film stars, stand-up and performance comics, literary humorists, and humorists in popular print.


  • Provides a context, vocabulary, and perspective to better appreciate and understand American humor
  • Connects historical developments to cultural changes
  • Includes both academic references and popular works
  • Covers a wide range of artists over a variety of media
  • Examines and explains general trends in American comedy
Zeke Jarvis, PhD, is an associate professor at Eureka College. His other works include So Anyway... and the forthcoming In A Family Way. Jarvis holds a doctorate in English from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.


"Jarvis's volume will serve as a valuable resource for those interested in exploring the specialty of humor studies. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty. Professionals/practitioners."—Choice, January 4, 2016

"Make 'em Laugh! American Humorists of the 20th and 21st Centuries opens a window to humor in the United States, a humor unique to our country, history, and culture. This book will help high school students, researchers, and those curious about comedic accomplishments. This is a noteworthy collection of American comedians and shows the evolution of the humorous landscape in entertainment."—ARBA, August 22, 2016
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