Cover

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CONTENTS

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p. vii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-x

First and foremost, I would like to thank Annie Martin and Jane Hoehner at Wayne State University Press, and Barry Keith Grant and Jeannette Sloniowski, the editors of the TV Milestones Series, for their kindness and continued support of this project. ...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. xi-xxix

For viewers tuned in to the debut of The Flip Wilson Show on Thursday, September 22, 1970, at 7:30 p.m., it must have been an uncanny sight: onstage stood a black man, smiling and running his hands over a large stack of money, and standing next to him was a white police officer, grimacing and running his hand over a holstered gun. ...

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1. Instituting Ambivalence: Race, Comedy-Variety, and Seventies TV

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pp. 1-32

Long before Flip Wilson stormed the nation on magazine covers and television screens, he traveled it by more traditional means: from one gig to the next, working small black clubs and then the theaters of the Chitlin Circuit. In the copious interviews that accompanied his success, ...

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2. Entertaining Identities, or the Politics of Variety Performance

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pp. 33-76

For critics of The Flip Wilson Show, both today and in the seventies, Wilson’s performance style is often the most troubling aspect of the show’s aesthetic. His exaggerated facial expressions and the stereotypical outlines of many of his recurring characters summon both implicit and explicit allusions to the racist culture ...

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3. Variety and the Art of the Audience

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pp. 77-98

Television’s ability to deliver close-up views of a performance into the privacy of the home led many of its early critics to call it an “intimate” medium, a term that still inflects the way we think about many styles of staging and shooting live acts.1 It is difficult, however, to imagine feeling this sense of intimacy ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 99-108

At the outset of this study, I proposed that the discourse of ambivalence surrounding The Flip Wilson Show should be recognized as part of a concerted aesthetic production rather than just as an aftereffect of reception. Insofar as the show works to elide these two moments, its aesthetic treatment of the audience ...

NOTES

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pp. 109-120

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 121-124

INDEX

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pp. 125-128