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Laughter in the Living Room

Television Comedy and the American Home Audience


Michael Tueth

For more than fifty years some very funny people have been entering American homes through television’s big picture window. From Lucy and Uncle Miltie, to Archie Bunker and Marge Simpson, certain comic stars of television history have become not just cultural icons, but friends of the family. This comprehensive study of the most successful television comedies – including domestic sitcoms, workplace comedies, variety shows, late-night comedy, animated comedy, and more – reveals that, unlike the comedy found in film, on stage, in comedy clubs and concert halls, television’s presentation of comic characters and stories must negotiate a relationship with the more privatized and value-laden environment of each American home that it enters.