Streams

[Laughter]

Sunday, May 27, 1956

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Gilbert Seldes discusses the reasons why people laugh, and notes that occasionally when others laugh he cannot join in. He mentions watching a movie and being irritated by all of the laughter in the audience.


Seldes speaks of a film which he felt got an "unbearable" amount of laughter. He goes on to describe the play, "Desk Set," in great detail, describing the "automatic machine" that threatened to take away the jobs of three reference librarians. He briefly discusses the struggle between people and technology.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 70610
Municipal archives id: LT7561

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Gilbert Seldes

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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.

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