Getting to Yes, And

"Comedy Book”


Jesse David Fox

Subscribe on

Kelly talks to Vulture Senior Editor Jesse David Fox who also hosts the "Good One" podcast about his new book, “Comedy Book: How Comedy Conquered Culture – And the Magic That Makes it Work.”

I appreciate how you write that comedy changes based on the room you are in, the time you’re in that room and other factors. Some comedians don’t like that.

“There are comedians who hope or believe their acts can be bulletproof, or that their acts don't need a context - that they can make these pristine jokes. And I think it's just completely naive, or a reflection of the fact that either they're only actually just playing the same types of places over and over again. And they're just assuming that's reality. Or they are so famous, or have the charisma of a famous person, that they essentially turn all rooms into like a showcase for them, because they are that magnetic.”

People also need to understand – from a historical and analytical perspective – comedy is a baby art form.

"Comedy as an art form is extremely young, even if you define what I think of as modern comedies, which are essentially from Minstrel shows of the nineteenth century, which don't seem very modern. But when you compare to painting, that's extremely modern - or theatre, whatever, right? There are comedic traditions that existed, but there's a direct line. And as a result, there was sort of this constant etching out of space and sort of defining what the value systems and the rules of the art form are, while also pushing back against a sort of innate knee jerk position a lot of people have to not take it seriously.”

This book is a love letter to American comedy.

“I don't want to say comedy is better than anything else. I'm just saying there are things that are special about it. There's how the audience can interact. It's an idealistic book. I’m always fighting the part of me that hates American comedy audiences because I have such a high standard for both comedians and audiences - and audiences didn't sign up for that. They're just going out on a Tuesday, but when they come together such a special thing happens.”

Photo Credit: Megh Wright


Related Episodes