“From nineteenth-century vaudeville to contemporary sitcoms, comedy teams have made people laugh. Those teams were masters of the comic craft and gave to the world a particularly American art form… Lawrence J. Epstein has written a history of America’s finest comedy teams from Burns and Allen and Laurel and Hardy through the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to the Smothers Brothers and beyond…”
Man, I really wanted to like Mixed Nuts (AbeBooks) (Amazon). After reading it, I read through the acknowledgements and the mountain of research done to make this book, and it was clear that the author didn’t know how to take all his research and make a cohesive study of comedy teams. The book is sort of chronological, then it turns thematic, then it goes back to chronological.
Parts of Mixed Nuts are good, when Epstein zeroes in on a specific team like Burns and Allen or Abbott and Costello, two of my favorite comedy teams, and studies them in length. Then the book goes off the rails and goes on and on about some comedy teams I’ve never heard of, and I’m fairly well-versed on old comedy teams.
Little is done with the comedians of the 1960’s, which was a great disappointment, considering the fact I picked up the book was to read more about my favorite, the Smothers Brothers. Despite the fact that the author interviewed both Tom and Dick, as well as several other comedians of the time, little is done with the information they gave.
Overall, a book that could have been great because of the subject matter, but ultimately disappoints.
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