The Funniest Decade:

American Comedy in the 1930s

by Garry Berman

Available at:

and Bear Manor Media


At the dawn of the 1930s, comedians had, for the first time, three performing venues available to them: the stage, radio, and talking films (plus, in the final year of the decade, the arrival of television), resulting in this ten-year span producing the finest performances by the greatest comedians ever to make audiences laugh. In film, comedy titans Laurel & Hardy, The Marx Brothers, and W. C. Fields all reached their creative peaks, as did Mae West, Our Gang (a.k.a. The Little Rascals), the Three Stooges, and less-remembered teams such as Wheeler & Woolsey, Clark & McCullough, and the Ritz Brothers.

Radio became a major entertainment force, allowing vaudevillians Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Fred Allen, Ed Wynn, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope, and Abbott & Costello to become national stars.

On the stage, comedians including Bert Lahr, Fannie Brice, Jimmy Durante, and Ed Wynn all thrived throughout the decade, while expanding their respective careers into films and radio.

The Funniest Decade devotes one chapter to each calendar year of the 1930s, covering the landmark films, radio programs, and stage performances of each year, and focusing on the individual comedians and comedy teams at key moments in their professional careers, including their first major creative and popular breakthroughs. Dozens of photos, too!

All of these hilarious performers are given their due credit on the pages of The Funniest Decade, which will devote a chapter to each year of the 1930s, to create a chronological, almost month-by-month look at this jam-packed decade of laughter, courtesy of the greatest comedians who ever lived.

What they're saying about "The First Decade"
"Author Garry Berman gives readers a history lesson in comparing and overlapping the mediums of radio artists and film comedies during the decade of the 1930s. In doing so, he has not only created a new format, he has brought in fresh perspectives of the people that made the magic."  – Bill Cassara, author of Nobody’s Stooge and Edgar Kennedy: Master of the Slow Burn.

 “It is a thorough and fascinating study, filled with interesting details.” – James Neibaur, author of Arbuckle & Keaton and The Charley Chase Talkies.

“I was thrilled to discover that The Funniest Decade offers a great deal of information about the film performances of Thelma Todd. With her career given short-shrift in many other film books, it makes a refreshing change to see the actress celebrated in this book. Garry Berman has done a stellar job.”  – Michelle Morgan, author of The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd.


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