"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning to do afterward."
-- Kurt Vonnegut
Have you ever found yourself curled into a fetal position at a comedy club because you were laughing so hard at the comedian's jokes? The ability to entertain people like that is a rare skill.
Although stand-up comedy has been traced as far back as the 1800s, it wasn't until the 1970s that the variety we see today really took off. Stand-up has catapulted the careers of many comedians into superstardom.
Never miss a local story.
Get a backstage comedy tour at Manatee County libraries with biographies of some of the greatest comedians to ever hit the stage, and then enjoy some of their best live performances on DVD.
George Carlin was known for his social comedy that ruffled the feathers of more than a few censors in the 1960s and '70s. When his "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" hit the airwaves, the radio station that broadcast the routine was suspended and fined.
The library offers several books by Carlin, including his autobiography, "Last Words" (co-written by Carlin friend and author, Tony Hendra). Nearly 15 years after they began collaborating on the book, it was finally released following Carlin's death in 2008.
The late Richard Pryor was another controversial, yet beloved comedian. His career took off in the 1970s and influenced innumerable others including Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. "Pryor Convictions," written by Pryor along with Todd Gold, discusses his early childhood in the 1940s as well as his rise to fame, which included movies such as "Stir Crazy," and being the first black host of "Saturday Night Live."
Ellen DeGeneres may be best known for her popular talk show; but she got her start as a stand-up comic and received her big break on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson in 1986. From there, her career catapulted into a steady string of successes including HBO specials, her hit TV show, and movies including "Finding Nemo." Check out her most recent book, "Seriously I'm Kidding."
Check our shelves for other titles by such comedy giants as Tim Conway, Joan Rivers, George Lopez, Tina Fey, Robin Williams, Chelsea Handler and many more. The library's large collection of DVDs includes stand-up routines by many of your favorites.
Are you interested in becoming a comedian? Logan Murray will give you some very useful insight into the craft in his book, "Be a Great Stand-Up."
You can access the library via mymanatee.org/library.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Undine Shorey is a staff member at the Manatee County Central Library.