QR codeTCF 553-001 Seminar in Telecommunication
Humor in American Television
Spring 2014

This is an addendum to the full syllabus. The instructor stipulates that a student's receipt of this addendum shall act as a contract between the instructor and the student. Receipt of this addendum presupposes that a student has read and understands the policies contained here and in the full online syllabus: http://goo.gl/EVyMNZ. Please contact the instructor if you have any questions about these policies.

Grades and other course materials are posted on Blackboard Learn.

Illustrations icon = illustrations | Screenpedia = Screenpedia | Internet Archive = Internet Archive | YouTube logo = YouTube | Netflix logo = Netflix streaming

Date Topic/Screening Readings
1/14 Introduction to Course
TV Comedy's Antecedents: Radio Comedies

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
(Kempner, 2009)
1/21 Conventions of the Genre

South Park (1997-) Illustrations icon online
(1993–2004) Illustrations icon Netflix logo
The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-71) YouTube logo

Theories of Humor Videos
Liberty (1929)Illustrations icon Hulu online
The Finishing Touch (1928)Illustrations icon


Amos 'n' Andy (radio, 1928-43; TV, 1951-53) Internet Archive Illustrations icon
The Goldbergs
(radio, 1929-46; TV, 1949-56) Internet Archive
Dalton & Linder, Part 1 (15-46); Feuer (138-160); Bull (47-79)
1/28 Snowpocalypse!  
2/4 Theories of Humor

Reframing the Family Videos
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
(1952–66) Illustrations icon
Leave It to Beaver
(1957–1963) Illustrations icon
The Andy Griffith Show
(1960–68) Illustrations icon
The Osbournes
(2002–2005) Illustrations icon
Mills, "Introduction" (1-24); Palmer (19-58); IEP, "Humor" (1-10)
Recommended: Carey (vii-xxviii)
  Reframing the Family

Gender Represented Videos
I Love Lucy
(1951-57) Illustrations icon
Our Miss Brooks (radio, 1948-57; TV, 1952-56) Internet ArchiveYouTube logo

Sex and the City (1998-2004) Illustrations icon
Roseanne (1988–97) Illustrations icon
Dalton & Linder, Part 2 (49-84); Haralovich (61-83)
2/18 Gender Represented

Race and Ethnicity Videos
Amos 'n' Andy
(radio, 1928-43; TV, 1951-53) Internet Archive Illustrations icon
For Your Love
(1998-2002) Illustrations icon
(1968-71) Illustrations icon
Girlfriends (2000-08) Illustrations icon
Student-led discussion (Brad): Dalton & Linder, Part 3 (87-122); Rowe (408-419)
2/25 Race and Ethnicity

Work and Social Class Videos
The Doris Day Show
(1968-73) Illustrations icon
The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66) Netflix logo Illustrations icon
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77) YouTube logo Illustrations icon
Student-led discussion (Rebecca): Dalton & Linder, Part 4 (125-162); Smith-Shomade (24-68)
3/4 Work and Social Class

Implications of Ideology Videos
Ally McBeal
(1997-2002) Illustrations iconIllustrations icon
Sex and the City (1998-2004) Illustrations icon
(1982-93) Illustrations icon
The Simpsons (1989-) Illustrations icon
Student-led discussion (Brittany): Dalton & Linder, Part 6 (205-238)
3/11 Implications of Ideology

The Televisual Comedy and Comedy Vérité Videos
The Office (UK, 2001-03; US, 2005-13) Netflix logo Illustrations icon Illustrations icon
Modern Family (2009-) Illustrations icon
The Honeymooners
Illustrations icon
The New Adventures of Old ChristineIllustrations icon
Scrubs (2001-10) Netflix logo Illustrations icon

Paper proposal due
Student-led discussion (Emma): Dalton & Linder, Part 7 (241-271); Lotz (88-117)
3/18 The Televisual Comedy
Comedy Vérité: The Faux Documentary

Sketch Comedy and Satire Videos
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
(1996– ) Illustrations icon Illustrations icon
Between Two Ferns (2008-) Illustrations icon
The Colbert Report (2005-) Illustrations icon
Colbert at the White House Correspondents Dinner (2006)Illustrations icon
In Living Color (1990–1994) Illustrations icon
Saturday Night Live Digital Shorts (2005-) Illustrations icon Illustrations icon Illustrations icon Illustrations icon Illustrations icon
Mills, "Comedy Vérité" (63-78); Thompson (63-72); Butler (173-222)
3/24-28 Spring Break  
4/1 Sketch Comedy and Satire

Intextuality and Genre Mixing Videos
The Simpsons (1989-) Illustrations icon
Soap (1977-81) Illustrations icon
(1989–1998) Illustrations icon

Proposed Bibliography Due
Peer Discussion of Proposals & Bibliographies
Morreale (104-123); Gray, Jones, Thompson (3-35); Gurney (254-273)
4/8 Intertextuality and Genre Mixing Gray (1-40); Dunne (49-57); Mittell (153-195)
4/15 Two Student Conference-style Presentations (with video)
Emma, "Diverse Representation and Visible Contradiction" (Two Broke Girls)
Brittany, "Breaking the Fourth Wall & Parasocial Interaction" (The Bernie Mac Show)
4/22 Two Student Conference-style Presentations (with video)
Rebecca, "Hey, Y'All" (King of the Hill)
Brad, "Postmodernism in Community" (Community)
4/28, Mon. Research Paper due, 11:59 p.m., via Blackboard/TurnItIn Illustrations icon  
5/1, Thurs. Final Exam, 8:00-10:30 a.m.  


Sitcom Reader cover Mary M. Dalton, Laura R. Linder, The Sitcom Reader: America Viewed and Skewed (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005). SUNY Website.

Available through the Phifer Hall Reading Room and on Blackboard Learn:

In alphabetical order, not the order in which they are assigned.

  1. Sheldon Bull, "Structuring Your Story," in Elephant Bucks: An Inside Guide to Writing for TV Sitcoms (Michael Wiese Productions, 2007), 47-79.
  2. Recommended, not required: Richard Butsch, "Five Decades and Three Hundred Sitcoms About Class and Gender," in Gary R. Edgerton, Brian Geoffrey Rose, eds., Thinking Outside the Box: A Contemporary Television Genre Reader (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005), 111-135.
  3. Jeremy G. Butler, "Televisuality and the Resurrection of the Sitcom in the 2000s," in Television Style (NY: Routledge, 2010), 173-222.
  4. John Carey, "Introduction," in Sigmund Freud,The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious, translated by Joyce Crick (New York: Penguin Classics, 2002), vii-xxviii. Freud's original was first published in 1905 as Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum Unbewußten.
  5. Michael Dunne, "Seinfeld as Intertextual Comedy," in Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain, edited by David Lavery and Sara Lewis Dunne (New York: Continuum, 2006), 49-57.
  6. Jane Feuer, "Genre Study and Television," in Robert C. Allen, Channels of Discourse, Reassembled (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 138-160.
  7. Jonathan Gray, "Reading through Intertextuality," in Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality (NY: Routledge, 2006), 1-40.
  8. Jonathan Gray, Jeffrey P. Jones, and Ethan Thompson, "The State of Satire, the Satire of State," in Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era (NYU Press, 2009), 3-35.
  9. David Gurney, "Sketches Gone Viral: From Watercooler Talk to Participatory Comedy," in Saturday Night Live & American TV, edited by Nick Marx, Matt Sienkiewicz, and Ron Becker (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 254-273.
  10. Mary Beth Haralovich, "Sitcoms and Suburbs: Positioning the 1950s Homemaker," Quarterly Review of Film & Video, 11, no. 1 (May 1989), 61-83.
  11. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "The Bakhtin Circle," http://www.iep.utm.edu/bakhtin/.
  12. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Humor," http://www.iep.utm.edu/humor/.
  13. Amanda D. Lotz, "Sex, Careers, and Mr. Right in Comedic Dramas: The 'New' New Woman of Ally McBeal and Sex in the City," in Redesigning Women: Television After the Network Era, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006), 88-117.
  14. Brett Mills, "Comedy Vérité: Contemporary Sitcom Form," Screen 45, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 63-78.
  15. Brett Mills, "Introduction," Television Sitcom (London: British Film Institute, 2005), 1-24.
  16. Brett Mills, "Sitcom and Performance," Television Sitcom (London: British Film Institute, 2005), 67-99.
  17. Jason Mittell, "Making Fun of Genres—The Politics of Parody and Genre Mixing in Soap and The Simpsons," in Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture (NY: Routledge, 2004), 153-195.
  18. Joanne Morreale, "Jon Stewart and The Daily Show: I Thought You Were Going to be Funny!," in Jonathan Gray, Jeffrey P. Jones, and Ethan Thompson, eds., Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era (NYU Press, 2009), 104-123.
  19. Jerry Palmer, The Logic of the Absurd: On Film and Television Comedy (London: BFI, 1987).
  20. Kathleen K. Rowe, "Roseanne: Unruly Woman as Domestic Goddess," Screen 31, no. 4 (1990): 408-419.
  21. Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, "Laughing Out Loud: Negras Negotiating Situation Comedy," in Shaded Lives: African-American Women and Television (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002), 24-68.
  22. Ethan Thompson, "Comedy Vérité? The Observational Documentary Meets the Televisual Sitcom", The Velvet Light Trap 60 (2007) 63-72.

View timeline of American TV comedy.
Contact: jbutler@ua.edu
Original material is copyright © 1994-2024 Jeremy G. Butler.
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