The History of Comedy


Institute History

  • 2017 Sundance Film Festival


This groundbreaking, eight part documentary series from CNN presents the definitive story of an ever-evolving and integral art form. Utilizing priceless archival footage punctuated by contemporary interviews with legends, scholars, and current stars of the medium, The History of Comedy explores the spinning gears that make the comedic mind tick. From stand-up to sitcoms, late night hosts to improv troupes, this is not only a history of what makes us laugh, but also an in-depth examination of how comedy has affected social and political landscapes throughout history.

The Festival premieres two episodes of the series before they air: “Spark of Madness” is an exploration into the darker side of comedy, revealing how anxiety, depression, and fear often serve as fuel for the creative process. “Going Blue” takes on the more offensive aspects of comedy, from the politically incorrect to the outright filthy, this is a tour of the disorderly routines and roasts that can make us laugh and cringe at the same time.

An extended discussion with series creators will follow the screening.

— Adam Montgomery

Screening Details

  • Section: Special Events
  • Film Type: Episodic
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Run Time: 83 min.
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