2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE HISTORY OF COMEDY

the history of comedyTHE HISTORY OF COMEDY
A sneak-preview of two episodes of a new CNN docuseries exploring the genre across historical, social, and political lines.

Festival Section:
Special Events

Sundance Program Description:

This groundbreaking, eight part documentary series from CNN presents the definitive story of an ever-evolving and integral art form. Utilizing priceless archival footage punctuated by contemporary interviews with legends, scholars, and current stars of the medium, THE HISTORY OF COMEDY explores the spinning gears that make the comedic mind tick. From stand-up to sitcoms, late night hosts to improv troupes, this is not only a history of what makes us laugh, but also an in-depth examination of how comedy has affected social and political landscapes throughout history.

The Festival premieres two episodes of the series before they air: “Spark of Madness” is an exploration into the darker side of comedy, revealing how anxiety, depression, and fear often serve as fuel for the creative process. “Going Blue” takes on the more offensive aspects of comedy, from the politically incorrect to the outright filthy, this is a tour of the disorderly routines and roasts that can make us laugh and cringe at the same time.

Some Background:
Executive Producers:

  • Sean Hayes
    This is the first Sundance project produced by the Emmy Award-winning actor best known for WILL & GRACE, but has appeared as an actor in Sundance fiction alums PIECES OF APRIL (2003) and BILLY’S HOLLYWOOD SCREEN KISS (1998). His company, Hazy Mills Productions, produces television series such as GRIMM and HOT IN CLEVELAND.

  • Todd Milliner
    This is the first Sundance credit for Milliner, Hazy Mills’ president.

  • Mark Herzog and Christopher G Cowen
    The Herzog & Company execs also executive produced fellow 2017 Sundance Special Event docuseries HOT GIRLS WANTED: TURNED ON and the popular CNN docuseries THE SIXTIES, THE SEVENTIES, THE EIGHTIES, and THE NINETIES.

Series Showrunner/Co-Executive Producer:

  • Stephen J Morrison
    The Emmy-nominated Morrison previously served as producer of THE SIXTIES and THE SEVENTIES and as supervising producer of THE EIGHTIES.

Senior Producer:

  • Jonathan Buss
    The Emmy nominated Buss has a background in television, including producing THE SIXTIES and HOT IN CLEVELAND.


  • David Rivera
    Rivera’s past credits include producing THE SEVENTIES and THE EIGHTIES.

  • PG Morgan
    Past Sundance docs:


    Morgan also serves as a consulting producer of fellow 2017 Sundance selection WATER & POWER: A CALIFORNIA HEIST

Co-Producers/Associate Producers:

  • Alex Fleming, Patrick Roscoe, Jane E Russell, and Elizabeth Goetzman
    Their past credits include producing THE SIXTIES, THE SEVENTIES, and THE EIGHTIES.

  • Dan Baglio
    Baglio is Herzog & Co’s VP of original programming and development, and formerly chief strategy officer for Hazy Mills.


  • Jason Hardwick and Natalie De Diego
    Both Hardwick and De Diego have cut THE SIXTIES, THE SEVENTIES, and THE EIGHTIES, while Hardwick has also edited episodes of HOT IN CLEVELAND.

Why You Should Watch:
With access to a range of seriously funny comedy performers and writers, this series shines a welcome, and smart, spotlight on a too-often, too-easily dismissed artform.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.