Watch this exclusive Mr. Media interview with Saul Austerlitz, author of Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community by clicking on the video player above!
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of George Jetson, Jane, his wife, My Mother the Car, Eddie’s Father, and Mr. Ed, who just stuck his head through the barn door … in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
What makes a TV comedy funny?
I’m not talking about dissecting punchlines or setups, but more the idea of the makeup of the medium’s meat & potatoes, the sitcom.
Why did “The Dick Van Dyke Show” soar but “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” didn’t while “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” did?
SAUL AUSTERLITZ podcast excerpt: “‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ is about this outrageous character wandering through what we recognize as ordinary upper-middle class life in Los Angeles and wreaking havoc. ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ is somewhat similar in its approach… They’re uncomfortable truth-tellers. What’s so remarkable about these shows is their ability to find new sacred cows to undermine.”
Why was “All in the Family” socially acceptable on CBS in 1971 but “Dads” on Fox is offensive today?
Saul Austerlitz, I promise, will explain it all. He is the author of a new comedy history called Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community. This is Saul’s second visit to our show and first via video; he was previously my guest to discuss his last book, Another Fine Mess: A History of the American Film Comedy.
SAUL AUSTERLITZ: “I find CBS sitcoms to be unwatchable for me. Mostly because of the laugh track issue. It’s hard for me to watch shows with laugh tracks in 2014. It feels like I’m in some sort of time warp. I think ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’ are… not bad. I don’t have anything majorly negative to say about them. They just seem so culturally out of place. They’re trying to recreate the 1980s model of sitcom–30 years later. It seems that CBS is not engaging in the same conversation as everybody else. I find their shows range from not watchable to not particularly interesting.”