The role of the comedian has changed over the years in America. Starting as performers filling in between more substantial acts, comics have evolved into central roles on stage, film, radio and television. More than mere joke tellers, they have depicted the foibles of our society and today are influential commentators and activists in the society. From tellers of jokes and performers in skits, some former stand-uo comedians are hosts to our most influential shows: Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Joan Rivers, John Stewart, and Ellen DeGeneris, for example.
In his new book, The Comedians Kliph Nesteroff, chronicles this evolution. Using and expanding on his excellent work, we shall attempt to better understand who and why we have enjoyed so much over the years.