We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Flip Wilson Show

Meghan Sutherland

Publication Year: 2008

Analyzes the social, political, and institutional context of The Flip Wilson Show, which ran on NBC between 1970 and 1974.

Published by: Wayne State University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (40.0 KB)
pp. vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (27.5 KB)
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. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (278.1 KB)
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. ...

read more

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

pdf iconDownload PDF (228.0 KB)
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, ...

read more

2. Entertaining Identities, or the Politics of Variety Performance

pdf iconDownload PDF (606.5 KB)
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 ...

read more

3. Variety and the Art of the Audience

pdf iconDownload PDF (242.4 KB)
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 ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (72.4 KB)
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 ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (67.1 KB)
pp. 109-120


pdf iconDownload PDF (57.5 KB)
pp. 121-124


pdf iconDownload PDF (334.2 KB)
pp. 125-128

E-ISBN-13: 9780814335758
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814332528

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 15
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1
Volume Title: N/a