Will Cuppy, American Satirist: A Biographyby Wes D. Gehring
Back in the golden age of humor books (late 1920s-early 1950s), when wits of the pantheon like Robert Benchley, James Thurber, and S.J. Perelman were producing their signature works, there was another singular satirist who more than held his own with such fast company: Will Cuppy (1884-1949). This factual funnyman's metier is dark comedy that flirts with
Back in the golden age of humor books (late 1920s-early 1950s), when wits of the pantheon like Robert Benchley, James Thurber, and S.J. Perelman were producing their signature works, there was another singular satirist who more than held his own with such fast company: Will Cuppy (1884-1949). This factual funnyman's metier is dark comedy that flirts with nihilism. His agenda is baldly stated in such classic Cuppy book titles as How to Be a Hermit (1929), How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes (1931), and The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody (1950). This biography doubles as a critical study of a satirist whose shish-kebabing of humanity was often done through the veiled anthropomorphic use of animals.
For a biographer, Will Cuppy represents a treasure trove of possibilities. He was a great humorist, and most of his best work is still in print, but until now he has never been the subject of a book-length study. His mesmerizingly complex and eccentric private life almost trumps the comic accomplishments of his public persona.
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Meet the Author
Wes D. Gehring is a professor of film at Ball State University and associate media editor for USA Today magazine, for which he also writes the column "Reel World." He is the author of 32 film-related books, including award-winning biographies of James Dean, Carole Lombard, Steve McQueen, Robert Wise and Red Skelton.
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Will Cuppy (1884-1949) was a remarkable American satirist...His was a dark comedy that flirted with nihilism...This fine, carefully researched biography gives his Hoosier childhood, his stint at the University of Chicago [and] his ascent to the authorship of such works of humor as "How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes" and How to Attract the Wombat." A fine, funny read. "Reference & Research Book News," (Dec.2013), p. 4