Although comedy is an important aspect of contemporary culture and a significant presence in film, television and radio, there is a surprising shortage of academic writing about comedy and the media. Laughing Matters: Understanding Comedy in Film, Television and Radio offers a comprehensive introduction to the history, development and current importance of comedy in film and broadcasting media. It offers a concise critical overview of comedy, its history and development in film and broadcasting, outlines some important theoretical approaches to understanding comedy, and raises some wider questions about the function of comedy, its appeal to audiences and the role of comedy in the construction of social values. Key theoretical debates and concepts are grounded in an understanding of the formal, institutional and cultural contexts which influence both the production and consumption of comedy, contexts which can sometimes render much comedy transitory, unfashionable and even offensive.
The book offers a broad chronological approach to understanding the history and development of comedy from silent film to contemporary developments in radio, film and television comedy. It encourages understanding of different forms, modes and techniques of comedy in different media across different historical moments, relating these to shifting patterns of consumption and cultural meaning. It examines the social function of comedy, addresses issues of class, ethnicity and gender in comedy, explores specific issues of taste and the politics of representation, and considers ways in which cultural values are constructed, transmitted and sometimes contested through comedy. By focussing on a broad range of distinctive but easily-accessible textual examples and by offering suggestions for further work and reading, the book aims to encourage readers to make sense of film, television and radio comedy, examine the significance and function of comedy in society, and to consider the role of comedy in the construction of cultural values. This book will be of interest to a wide readership, and will provide an ideal introductory text for students on Media, Film, Communication and Cultural Studies programmes