The Art of Comedy

An Anthology of Plays (Second Edition)
Edited by Larry Eilenberg
©2012, 610 pages

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The Art of Comedy

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    "Comedy keeps the heart sweet..."
    - Mark Twain

    "From there to here, From here to there, Funny things are everywhere."
    - Dr. Seuss

    There is a famous saying usually credited to Robert Frost that goes: "Poetry is what gets lost in translation." For the student of comedy, a variation on this familiar maxim might be: "Comedy is what gets lost in explanation." It certainly has been my experience that the more you explain a joke, for example, the less funny it becomes. And students have routinely told me that knowing too much about how comedy works can spoil some of its fun. Yet those same students will return to say that their knowledge, finally, made them appreciate good comedy more and tolerate bad comedy less. If that is so, then for the successful course in comedy, we’ll hope that: "Comedy is what gets found in explanation."
    - Larry Eilenberg, Introduction to The Art of Comedy

    Larry Eilenberg has had a distinguished career in the American theatre as an artistic director, educational leader, and pioneering dramaturg. Dr. Eilenberg earned his Ph.D. and M.Phil. at Yale University and his B.A. at Cornell University. He is Professor of Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University, where he served three terms as Theatre Arts Department Chair. He has also taught at Yale, Cornell, the University of Michigan, and the University of Denver. Artistic Director of the renowned Magic Theatre during the period 1992–2003, Dr. Eilenberg has also served as a commentator for National Public Radio’s 'Morning Edition', as a U.S. theatrical representative to Moscow, and as a popular lecturer on comedy. He is currently working on a study of 'Mentorship in Theatre'.
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