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The History of Comedy

The History of Comedy

  • Premiered: 
    February 9, 2017
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: CNN
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Historical
  • Tags: comedy

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Plot Synopsis

Executive produced by Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, THE HISTORY OF COMEDY is an eight-episode series that explores what makes people laugh and how comedy has affected the social and political landscape throughout history. In addition to archival footage, the series features contemporary interviews with comedy legends, scholars and current stars, including Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Senator Al Franken, Margaret Cho, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, Kathy Griffin, George Lopez, Keegan-Michael Key, Dick Gregory, Conan O'Brien, Patton Oswalt, Dick Cavett, Ali Wong, W. Kamau Bell, Marc Maron and more. Each episode focuses on a different theme, including censorship, 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. THE HISTORY OF COMEDY premiered on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN, three weeks after it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, January 21 at The Egyptian Theatre, where the Festival screened two episodes: the series opener and "Spark of Madness," which explores the darker side of comedy, revealing how anxiety, depression, and fear often serve as fuel for the creative process. The series opener, "F-ing Funny" (fka "Going Blue"), looks at groundbreaking comedians like George Carlin, Dick Gregory and Lenny Bruce who dared to embrace the risque side of comedy and risked careers, prison, and even their lives to fight censorship. THE HISTORY OF COMEDY returned with new episodes on Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN. The mid-season premiere, "One Nation Under Comedy," is an episode about racial humor and how comedy about shared experiences can cross cultural barriers. The remaining episodes, airing Sundays at 10pm ET/PT, will explore comedy ripped from the headlines, parody and satire, the dark side of comedy, and political humor.
On Sunday, August 13, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT, CNN premiered the Season 1 finale of THE HISTORY OF COMEDY. The season ender, "Politics Aside," examines the many different ways that comedy has lampooned and influenced politics over the years.

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Hazy Mills Productions