LAUGHING IN THE DARK: A Decade of Subversive Comedy by Laurie Stone

LAUGHING IN THE DARK: A Decade of Subversive Comedy

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Novelist and Village Voice critic Stone (Starting with Serge, 1989) offers an anthology of poorly executed essays on stand-up comedy. Purportedly a study covering the last decade, this is instead a haphazardly organized collection of previously published pieces, written largely in a vernacular that will be lost on readers who are neither bicoastal nor metropolitan. Furthermore, Stone cannot avoid injecting her painfully PC views into nearly every piece, which would not be terrible were it not for her amazing inconsistency. A blind spot vis-É-vis Judaism shows, and her criticism of Fiddler on the Roof in a discussion of revitalized Yiddish theater belies a loathing for Orthodoxy in particular. It seems only Jewish comics like Danny Hoch (who, admittedly, is one of the lesser-knowns that Stone features in Laughing), who are sufficiently secular and mulitcultural, are acceptable to Stone. Elsewhere, Stone is careless and even cruel, as in her comparison of a comedian to the ""surface flash and pointlessness of minimalist fiction""--tell that to Gass or Sorentino--or her statement regarding Spalding Gray's eye disease that ""in this age of AIDS and cancer, the threat of blindness to one eye has to be a comedy."" And with all her deserved attention to the rise of gay comedy, there is no mention of Canada's Kids in the Hall, the troupe that revolutionized drag and gay comedy in the 1980s and toured the US only two years ago. Clearly a book for Stone fans only; to the reader looking for an unbiased, funny view, caveat emptor.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1997
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Ecco