Historical Comedy on Screen (Book)

Subverting History with Humour

Edited by Hannu Salmi

In 1893, Friedrich Engels branded history 'the cruelest goddess of all.' This sorrowful vision of the past is deeply rooted in the Western imagination, and history is thus presented as a joyless playground of inevitability rather than a droll world of possibilities. There are few places this is more evident than in historical cinema which tends to portray the past in a somber manner. Historical Comedy on Screen examines this tendency paying particular attention to the themes most difficult to laugh at and exploring the place where comical and historical storytelling intersect. The book emphasizes the many oft-overlooked comical renderings of history and asks what they have to tell us if we begin to take them seriously.

Category: Performing Arts


Hannu Salmi is professor of cultural history at the University of Turku in Finland and coeditor of the series Studies on Popular Culture, also published by Intellect.

Introduction: Mad History of the World  – Hannu Salmi, University of Turku
Buster Keaton’s Comedies of Southern History: Our Hospitality and The General – Susan E. Linville, University of Denver
From Ideal Husbands to Berserk Gargoyles: Comic Representations of the British Past in the 1950s and 1960s – Harri Kilpi, University of Helsinki
Comedians and Romance: History and Humour in Kalabalik – David Ludvigsson, University of Uppsala
Woody Allen and History – Maurice Yawocar, University of Calgary
No Laughing Matter? Comedy and The Spanish Civil War – David Archibald, University of Glasgow
A Killer Joke? World War Two in Post-War British Television and Film Comedy – Rami Mähkä, University of Turku
“Holocaust-Nostalgia”, Humor and Irony: The Case of Pizza in Auschwitz – Hagai Dagan, Sapir College
Comedy and Counter-history – Marcia Landy, University of Pittsburg
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