Today, Pop Candy interviews Richard Zoglin, author of Comedy At the Edge: How Stand-Up in the 1970s Changed America, a book that covers the rise to fame of major comedic power-players like Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld.
In the rock-and-roll 1970s, a new breed of comic, inspired by the fearless Lenny Bruce, made telling jokes an art form. Innovative comedians like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Robert Klein, and, later, Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, Robin Williams, and Andy Kaufman, tore through the country and became as big as rock stars in an era when Saturday Night Live was the apotheosis of cool and the Improv, Catch a Rising Star, and the Comedy Store were the hottest clubs around. In Comedy at the Edge, Richard Zoglin gives a backstage view of the time, when a group of brilliant, iconoclastic comedians ruled the world—and quite possibly changed it, too. Based on extensive interviews with club owners, agents, producers—and with unprecedented and unlimited access to the players themselves—Comedy at the Edge is a no-holdsbarred, behind-the-scenes look at one of the most influential and tumultuous decades in American popular culture.
Many of these giant stars got their break on TV. At Fancast, you can catch several videos of these seminal performers:
Steve Martin, who cut his teeth as a Not Ready for Prime Time Player on Saturday Night Live.
George Carlin, who made his TV debut on The Tonight Show in the 60’s, but developed his anti-conformist shtick in HBO during the 1970’s.
Jerry Seinfeld’s show may have been a staple of the 80’s, but his first TV appearance was in the show Benson.
Jay Leno, whose brand of humor in the decade of disco was a lot less “family friendly” before he landed The Tonight Show.
Before the marriage that was never a marriage, before the baby mama troubles, before Shrek, Dr. Dolittle and Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy was simply a young funny guy on Saturday Night Live.