Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America is now available as a three-disc DVD collection from Rhino Entertainment. The six-hour documentary series originally aired on PBS and chronicles the history of comedy in America. The set features host Billy Crystal and narrator Amy Sedaris, with a plethora of interviews and brief clips of comedians, films, and tv shows.
Make Em’ Laugh is divided into hour-long episodes that examine different genres of comedy, from slapstick and satire to stand-up and sitcoms. The first disc opens with cheesy jokes courtesy of host Billy Crystal, but quickly takes off with clips from various Judd Apataw films. The series eventually moves back to the silent film era and early slapstick comedy before progressing into McCarthy era censorship and groundbreaking standup comics, then onto the modern age with The Simpsons and Family Guy.
Among the many interviews, appearances, and clips shown are Charlie Chaplin, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Sid Caesar, Judd Apatow, Woody Allen, Larry Wilmore, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Richard Lewis, Jon Stewart, Roseanne Barr, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby, Cheech Marin, Lenny Bruce, and George Carlin. My personal favorite special feature of the DVD collection shows various comedians – including Jerry Seinfeld, Phyllis Diller, Richard Belzer, Lily Tomlin, and Mickey Rooney – sharing their favorite jokes of all time.
As a child of the ’80s, I was able to see reruns of classic shows like The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, and Carol Burnett. But a lot of younger generations seem to be missing out on the great comedies of the past. This is a great lil collection to introduce new fans to such shows and stir up nostalgia for the rest of us.
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