Nick Marx, "Sketch Comedy: Identity, Reflexivity, and American Television" (Indiana UP, 2019)


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“Sketch comedy – more than any other television genre – lays bare the process of identity formation, pokes fun at its contradictions, and invites us to debate its terms.” In Sketch Comedy: Identity, Reflexivity, and American Television (Indiana University Press, 2019), author Nick Marx makes this argument and goes on to systematically prove it through a series of case studies dating from the earliest days of network television through to our post-network era. While sketch is an understudied form of television expression and a genre that rarely garners full-throated network support, it remains one of the most playful, political, and experimental kinds of programming in U.S. television. Close readings of the on-screen representations and off-screen politics of shows including Saturday Night Live, The State, and Key & Peele drive home how vital it is that television scholars and fans recognize the power of sketch in forming what we watch, what we think, and what we believe.

In this conversation, Nick Marx discusses this book, his first solo-authored monograph, in conjunction with his prior publications, defines his term “reflexivity flexibility,” gives it up for Mr. Show with Bob and David, and gives it to Pete Davidson.

Nick Marx is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies in the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University. His most recent book (with Matt Sienkiewicz) is That's Not Funny: How the Right Makes Comedy Work for Them due out this spring from University of California Press.

Annie Berke is the Film Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books and author of Their Own Best Creations: Women Writers in Postwar Television (University of California Press, 2022). Her writing has been published in the Washington Post, Public Books, Literary Hub, The Forward, and Camera Obscura. You can follow her on Twitter @sayanniething.

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