December 1964

The American Humorist: Conscience of the Twentieth Century.

Author Affiliations

By Norris W. Yates. Price, $4.95. Pp 410, with few illustrations. Iowa State University Press, Press Bldg, Ames, Ia, 1964.

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(6):854-855. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860120166026

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It is the general view of Professor Yates in this interesting analysis that the American humorist of the 20th century has changed a great deal from his predecessors. A point which does not come out in any clear detail is that in our neurotic age so addicted to tranquilizers, tobacco, and alcohol, the American humorist has become all but extinct. Humor tends to be replaced by the glib superficialities of the wisecrack. Frantic and often futile gag writers struggle to supply the insatiable demand TV and movies have for such material. The notion that the product of such frenetic activity is humorous or funny seems to be an illusion which prevails mainly because it is all that we have left.

Yates' analysis of the American humorists in the first half of the 20th century is achieved by a study of the significant features of their personal lives and excerpts from

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