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Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy$
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Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520295049

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520295049.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy

Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley

University of California Press

Jack Benny was the most successful of radio’s comedians. In 23 years of weekly broadcasts, Benny indelibly shaped American humor through this powerful mass medium, and became one of the most influential entertainers of the 20th century. The ultimate master of comic timing, Jack Benny was also a canny entrepreneur, becoming one of the pioneering “showrunner” producer/writer/performers. His modern style of radio humor (informal monologues and easy repartee with comic assistants like the famed Rochester character played by Eddie Anderson and wife Mary Livingstone) created the situation comedy. In this career study, we learn how Jack Benny found ingenious ways to sell his sponsors products in commercials listeners loved, and how he dealt with challenges of race relations, gender ideals, creating comedy and thriving in rapidly changing American media.

Keywords:   Jokes, American humor, radio history, fame, gender, theories of humor, Aural humor, linguistic slapstick, biography, historical sources

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