TV Tango Search


|              FREE: Ask a TV Expert

The History of Comedy

The History of Comedy

  • Premiered: 
    February 9, 2017
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: CNN
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Historical
  • Tags: comedy

Buy This Show on DVD or Watch Online

No DVDs Available
(That We Know Of)
Legal Full Episodes
Not Available Online
(That We Know Of)

Plot Synopsis

Executive produced by Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, THE HISTORY OF COMEDY is an eight-episode series that explores what makes people laugh and how comedy has affected the social and political landscape throughout history. In addition to archival footage, the series features contemporary interviews with comedy legends, scholars and current stars, including Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Senator Al Franken, Margaret Cho, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, Kathy Griffin, George Lopez, Keegan-Michael Key, Dick Gregory, Conan O'Brien, Patton Oswalt, Dick Cavett, Ali Wong, W. Kamau Bell, Marc Maron and more. Each episode focuses on a different theme, including censorship, women in comedy, political humor, parody and satire, comedy ripped from the headlines, the dark side of comedy, comedy in race and culture, and comedy found in everyday life. THE HISTORY OF COMEDY premiered on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN, three weeks after it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, January 21 at The Egyptian Theatre, where the Festival screened two episodes: the series opener and "Spark of Madness," which explores the darker side of comedy, revealing how anxiety, depression, and fear often serve as fuel for the creative process. The series opener, "F-ing Funny" (fka "Going Blue"), looks at groundbreaking comedians like George Carlin, Dick Gregory and Lenny Bruce who dared to embrace the risque side of comedy and risked careers, prison, and even their lives to fight censorship. THE HISTORY OF COMEDY returned with new episodes on Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN. The mid-season premiere, "One Nation Under Comedy," is an episode about racial humor and how comedy about shared experiences can cross cultural barriers. The remaining episodes, airing Sundays at 10pm ET/PT, will explore comedy ripped from the headlines, parody and satire, the dark side of comedy, and political humor. Season 2 of THE HISTORY OF COMEDY premiered on Sunday, July 15, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN. The second season uses archival footage punctuated by contemporary interviews with comedy legends, scholars and current stars including Sean Hayes, Judd Apatow, Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Mo'Nique, Conan O'Brien, Tim Allen, Billy Eichner, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Kenny and Keith Lucas, Mike Myers, W. Kamau Bell, Marc Maron, Whitney Cummings, Jim Jefferies, Rachel Bloom, Jim Gaffigan, Sinbad, Catherine O'Hara and many more. The season opener, "Carnal Knowledge," explores how sexual humor, one of the oldest forms of comedy, pushes the limits of both comfort and political correctness. Additional episodes, airing Sunday nights at 10pm, explore comedy duos/teams, comedy in animation, sketch comedy, family-friendly comedy and comedy legends gone too soon.
On Sunday, August 19, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT, CNN premiered "No Offense," the Season 2 finale of THE HISTORY OF COMEDY. There has always been a need for family-friendly comedy, and many artists have taken the task despite the inherent challenges. Comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, Ellen DeGeneres and Sinbad found success on stage "working clean." For comedians like Bob Saget, Tim Allen, and Whitney Cummings, they found themselves altering their comedic voices when they landed lead roles on network sitcoms. Writers for television shows across every era -- from I LOVE LUCY and IN LIVING COLOR to WILL & GRACE and MODERN FAMILY -- have always found creative ways to use euphemisms and innuendo, while still abiding by the rules set by the what were often strict network censors.

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Hazy Mills Productions