Doc’s Book and Resources

Baggy Pants Comedy: Burlesque and the Oral Tradition
Baggy Pants Comedy: Burlesque and the Oral Tradition

Baggy Pants Comedy: Burlesque and the Oral Tradition

The most complete exploration of burlesque comedy is Doc’s own Baggy Pants Comedy: Burlesque and the Oral Tradition. The book is published by Palgrave Macmillan and received the CHOICE Award from the American Library Association as an Outstanding Scholarly Text of 2012.

Baggy Pants Comedy takes readers inside the burlesque houses of Depression-era America to explore the role of comedy in a show remembered mostly for strip-tease. It examines how burlesque comics, straightmen, and talking women approached the craft of comedy, working in a genre that relied not on scripts but on a remembered tradition of comedy bits that circulated orally.

The book opens a long-neglected area of American folklore, presenting dozens of fondly-remembered routines like “Who’s On First” and “Niagara Falls (Slowly I Turned),” as well as long-forgotten classics in print for the first time.

“Both funny and informative.  He writes about the old-style shticks, bits, and routines as if he were dancing in front of you. Or maybe better yet, alongside of you. He brings this lost world to life in a vivid and memorable way.”
Rachel Shteir, Associate Professor of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism
DePaul University
Author of Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show

“Davis has gone well beyond peeling back and revealing historical and technical specifics of burlesque comedy and has forged an invaluable work of desired reading for comics, comedians, and clowns.”

Hovey Burgess, Master Teacher of Circus
New York University, Dramaturg, Circus Flora

“Davis has succeeded in writing a definitive history of burlesque comedy in America. Well written and intelligently critiqued, this is a very timely book because there has been a revival of burlesque itself. Davis knows this field better than anyone.”

Lawrence E. Mintz, Associate Professor Emeritus
American Studies, University of Maryland

“An impressive document. It is accessible, enjoyable, and highly readable, while fully exploring and explaining the historical, cultural, and mechanical complexities of raucous burlesque comedy. Davis has rescued an art form – the art of Abbott & Costello and countless other comedy greats – from slipping into cultural anonymity.”
Andrew L. Erdman, Author of Blue Vaudeville

More Resources

  • Great Resources on Burlesque and Burlesque Comedy
    Great Resources on Burlesque and Burlesque Comedy
    Most histories of burlesque give short shrift to the comedy, but these books contain useful chapters on the subject.  Most are out of print, but generally available from on-line sources.   The American Burlesque Show By Irving Zeidman Hawthorn Books, 1967 Zeidman’s book is the most detailed and well-researched history on 20th Century burlesque. He […]
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