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The American Comedy Archives was established at Emerson College in 2005 to acquire, preserve, and make available primary source material that documents the professional activities of the groundbreaking individuals who have written, produced, or performed comedy for radio, television, motion pictures, or live performance.
The project was a lifelong passion for Bill Dana. A 1950 Emerson graduate with with a distinguished career in comedy as a performer, writer, and producer, Dana and Project Manager Jenni Matz conducted interviews with a veritable “who’s who” of comedic history.?
Bill Dana passed away on June 15, 2017. Donations may be made to the American Comedy Archives in his memory by contacting Executive Director, Iwasaki Library Bob Fleming at robert_flemingemerson [dot] edu.
The American Comedy Archives Include:
Supported by a?partnership with the Television Academy Foundation's The Interviews: An Oral History of Television?and the Center for Comedic Arts, a collection of the taped comedy interviews in the American Comedy Archives will be digitized.?
The partnership?includes an on going collaboration to co-produce new interviews for the archives.
Interviews with Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls), Kevin Bright (Friends, In Living Color), Pat Harrington, Jr.?(One Day at a Time) and Doug Herzog (Comedy Central) launch the initiative and are available to watch now. Read more about the new partnership and learn more about the available interviews.
The collections contain a wealth of primary source material related to American comedy. Collections include; The Bill Dana Oral History Collection, The Rev. Warren Debenham Comedy Sound Recordings Collection, Larry Mintz Collection, and many more.
Read excerpts from our oral interviews. Topics include; The Importance of Comedy, On Profanity and Blue Humor, What is Funny, Developing Technique, and more.
Beginning in February of 2005 through June of 2007, videotaped oral history interviews were conducted with leading figures in the comedy world. The interviews have been transcribed and are available online.
The Emerson College Archives are located at:
120 Boylston Street
Second Floor, Room 223
The Archives are open to students, faculty, staff, and the public by appointment only.
Appointments may be made: Monday–Friday, 9:00 am–4:00 pm.
To schedule an appointment, please call 617-824-8301 or email archivesemerson [dot] edu.