Laughing is the expression of merriment by convulsive sounds accompanied by opening the mouth and wrinkling the face."" But, as such an opening would indicate, you won't find laughs in this dutiful compilation of names, show titles, capsule characterizations, snatches of dialogue, and quoted tributes. The chronological survey moves from America's earliest comedies and the actor who ""made George Washington laugh"" to today's black sitcoms on TV. Along the way the authors point out, for example, that ""although Weber and Fields may appear today to be merely another slapstick team, actually they were innovators""; and they note of Woody Allen that ""Beneath this slightly balding, fading red head was a hard-working, intelligent man, who combined a lovable personality with a soaring imagination."" The Calms end by praising contemporary TV comedy which ""bring[s] personal, racial, and ethnic issues out in the open with kindness instead of mockery."" Overall it's the sort of earnest digest that won't mean much to readers who haven't heard of the ""covered"" comics, and won't add much to what those who have already know.