We are excited to welcome Shawn Levy back to Broadway Books to talk about his new book In On the Joke: The Original Queens of Stand-Up Comedy. In on the Joke is the story of a group of unforgettable women who knocked down the doors of standup comedy so other women could get a shot. It spans decades, from Moms Mabley's rise in Black vaudeville between the World Wars, to the roadhouse ribaldry of Belle Barth and Rusty Warren in the '50s and '60s, to Elaine May's co-invention of improv comedy, to Joan Rivers' and Phyllis Diller's ferocious ascent to mainstream stardom. These women refused to be defined by type and tradition, facing down indifference, puzzlement, nay-saying, and unvarnished hostility. They were discouraged by agents, managers, audiences, critics, fellow performers--even their families. And yet they persevered against the tired notion that women couldn't be funny, making space not only for themselves but for the women who followed them.
Shawn last read here with his book The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont. In the interim he produced a collection of poetry, A Year in the Life of Death: Poems Inspired by the Obituary Pages of The New York Times. He is the author of several other books of biography and pop culture history, and his writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, Sight & Sound, Film Comment, and American Film. Shawn was born in New York City and educated at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine. He was the film critic for The Oregonian from 1997 to 2012 and for KGW-TV from 2009 to 2016. He is a former Senior Editor of American Film and a former Associate Editor of Box Office. Shawn is also an active member of Portland's soccer community.
Note: At this point we are planning on this being an in-store event. Given the small size of our store, we ask that attendees wear masks at the event.