• Part of
    Ubiquity Network logo

    Read Chapter
  • No readable formats available
  • “The Cuckoo School”: Humor and Metropolitan Culture in 1920s America

    Rob King

    Chapter from the book: King, R. 2017. Hokum!: The Early Sound Slapstick Short and Depression-Era Mass Culture.


    The book’s argument proper begins by marking a paradox for contemporary readings of silent slapstick as a quintessentially “modern” comedic form; namely that, by the end of the 1920s, slapstick’s modernity was already qualified, the form increasingly perceived as outdated. Furthermore, the very years that witnessed slapstick’s fall from grace also saw the emergence of a new critical perspective associating modern humor, not with film comedy, but with a new vein of metropolitan absurdism exemplified by the city wits who staffed publications like New Yorker as well as by a new cohort of “cuckoo” comedians who began to dominate the Broadway scene. The opening chapter examines the era’s argot of comedic “lunacy” and “goofyism” as a new vocabulary of metropolitan distinction, before turning to short subjects for a case study of the comedies of Clark and McCullough, the duo that best enshrined the cuckoo mode in early sound-era shorts.

    Chapter Metrics:

    How to cite this chapter
    King, R. 2017. “The Cuckoo School”: Humor and Metropolitan Culture in 1920s America. In: King, R, Hokum!. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.28.b

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

    Peer Review Information

    This book has been peer reviewed. See our Peer Review Policies for more information.

    Additional Information

    Published on April 7, 2017