The success of clown comedy is dependent on the comic or comics who take center stage. These comics are usually identified with a specific comedic shtick, physical or visual humor, and their underdog status. This study by film scholar Wes Gehring presents a brief, historical overview of major figures in the genre, including W. C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, and Woody Allen. The comedians discussed are drawn from four genre periods: the silent era, the depression era, the post-World War II period, and the modern era.
WES D. GEHRING is Professor of Film at Ball State University. He is the author of numerous books, including American Dark Comedy: Beyond Satire (Greenwood, 1996), Screwball Comedy (Greenwood, 1986), Populism and the Capra Legacy (1995), Handbook of American Film Genres (1988), and bio-bibliographies on Laurel & Hardy, W. C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, and the Marx Brothers.