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School Library Journal
What's so funny about democracy? Here, Peterson (American studies, Univ. of Iowa) takes on the big three late-night comedians-Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Conan O'Brian-and critiques their approach to current American politics. Classifying all three comedians as pseudosatirical and safe, he contrasts their humor with the genuinely satirical, political, edgy brand of cable television's John Stewart, Steven Colbert, and Bill Maher. Although he focuses on the current climate of comedy and politics, Peterson does take a historical approach, introducing us to Artemus Ward and Petroleum V. Nasby, 19th-century pseudonymous print equivalents of Jay Leno and Steven Colbert. This book takes an insightful look at the increasingly complex media landscape, where "legitimate" cable and network journalists, cable-news pundits, and TV comedians all fall under the same category of "infotainment" and political leaders and celebrities alike are both ridiculed and revered. He also raises the question whether late-night comedians have a moral role to play as individuals who reach a mass audience with their jibes. Especially timely now that the election season is underway, this book is strongly recommended for large public and academic libraries.
—Jennifer Zarr Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information