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This is the first of two chapters about comedic genres. It first explains that, rather than a government-controlled soapbox that repelled humor, much of socialist TV programming was actually perceived by audiences as comic because socialism itself was absurdly comical. Television was an instrument of absurdity as it constantly foregrounded the distance between the utopian world it depicted and the actual experience of socialist lives. After discussing the specificities of the comic register of socialist television, I step farther back and assess how TV humor concentrated around specific genres. These genres continued prewar European traditions of cabaret and satire while...

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