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The History of Comedy

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CNN Original Series examines the historic influence of comedy in an eight-part documentary. Archival footage and contemporary interviews with comedy legends, scholars and current stars combine to explore what makes people laugh and how comedy has affected history's social and political landscape. Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho, Jimmy Kimmel, Kathy Griffin, George Lopez, Keegan-Michael Key, Conan O'Brien, Patton Oswalt and Dick Cavett are among those interviewed. The series begins by profiling "blue" comics like George Carlin and Lenny Bruce. Subsequent episodes detail women in comedy, political humor, parody and satire, comedy ripped from the headlines, the dark side of comedy, comedy in race and culture, and comedy found in everyday life.

Latest episodes

VOD available
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aired 1 day ago
Exploring and celebrating the greatest female comedians of all time and how they were able to succeed in every genre where humor is found despite rampant sexism and prejudice.
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A look at groundbreaking comics, including George Carlin, Dick Gregory and Lenny Bruce, who embraced the risqué side of comedy and risked careers, prison, and even their lives to fight censorship.
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How sexual humor, one of the oldest forms of comedy, pushes the limits of both comfort and political correctness.
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Tracing the origins of topical humor from the invention of the monologue to the fake news shows of today.
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Exploring the fascinating mind of the comedian and the difficult road that many seem destined to take -- where mental illness and substance abuse are remarkably common.
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Examining the many different ways that comedy has lampooned and influenced politics over the years.
aired 141 days ago
Examining how comedians find humor in the simple daily experiences we all share to make us laugh.
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Exploring the evolution of racial humor; how comedy can cross cultural barriers to unite people.
airs in 7 days
The history between animation and comedy.
airs today
Exploring the history of sketch and improv comedy and how it evolved into a significant part of comedic talent today.