In The Comedians, comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff brings to life a century of American comedy with real-life characters, forgotten stars, mainstream heroes and counterculture iconoclasts. Based on over two hundred original interviews and extensive archival research, Nesteroff’s groundbreaking work is a narrative exploration of the way comedians have reflected, shaped, and changed American culture over the past one hundred years.
Kliph Nesteroff is a former stand-up comic turned writer. A longtime contributor to WFMU, writing about the history of comedy, Nesteroff’s latest project is hosting the Classic Showbiz Talk Show, a live series in Los Angeles that has welcomed comedy luminaries like Mel Brooks, Fred Willard and Laugh-In creator George Schlatter.
“Entertaining and carefully documented . . . I thought I knew a lot about the history of American comedy. But this book located gaps in my knowledge I never knew were there and filled them with jaw-dropping anecdotes that made my eyes spin in different directions . . . This book is a real treat.”—Merrill Markoe, Wall Street Journal
“In the past decade, there have been several superb history books about comedy . . . but none will entertain comedy nerds as much as Kliph Nesteroff’s The Comedians . . . sprawling and savvy . . . comedy’s answer to Luc Sante’s Low Life.”—New York Times Book Review
“An antic history of U.S. comedy . . . Nesteroff writes with insider perception . . . With his encyclopedic knowledge, a talent for vivid anecdotes and tireless gusto . . . [The Comedians is] an insightful overview of the most independent and subversive entertainment genre of the last century.”—Washington Post
“[An] excellent book.”—New York Times
“The Comedians . . . is right up there with I’m Dying Up Here, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live and Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, in terms of thoroughness, engagement and lasting significance.”—L.A. Weekly (Best Local Comedy Author)