No Laughing Matter

Passing for History:

Humor and Early Television Historiography


...As I have discussed elsewhere, the fact that marginalized racial and ethnic "performances" were even afforded representation on television in this era is conditioned by the local/independent profile of early LA television.  The barriers to entry were very different at that local level, affording what, from a network perspective, would appear to be unconventional opportunities and experiments in programming, often tailored to perceived local tastes and preferences.  (Ina Ray Hutton's show, for example, was one of many big band programs on Los Angeles TV  , a programming trend made possible by the still-vibrant post-WWII market for these bands to perform in Southern California.)  But these performers/performances are also indicative of a fundamental displacement away from the demographic realities of the nonwhite LA population of this era.  Notable African American and Latino stars would have represented the area's largest nonwhite populations by far, but appeared more rarely than Los Angeles population figures might have predicted...


from page 182



When did you begin work on the subject of 'passing'?



How did these performers "game the system"?



What part does oral history work play in your research?



Recycled Stars