The Playboy Interviews: The Comedians--Edited by Stephen Randall and the editors of Playboy
The immensely readable fifth collection of Playboy interviews supports believing that at least some of those who said they read the magazine for the articles may not have been disingenuous. By turns probing and casual, informative and entertaining, witty and silly, frivolous and deadly serious, these modern-day platonic dialogues, here with prominent comics, are packed with observations and insights, and relatively untainted by spin or hype. What other mainstream publication in 1968 would have given Bill Cosby, still fresh from his initial successes in stand-up and as costar of a hit TV series, a forum to speak, with bare-knuckle honesty, about race relations in America? Or the seemingly lighthearted, wild and crazy Steve Martin a place in 1980 to display his thoughtful melancholy? Though very far from comprehensive in covering the comedy scene—all the interviewees are male and either American or Canadian; only two aren't white—this selection is genuinely all-star and a great resource for anyone interested in the attitudes and opinions of the top comic minds of the last 40 years.