“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” The actor who adlibbed that aphorism on his deathbed (it is attributed to two Edmunds of different eras: Kean and Gwenn), spoke the truth. However, Jonathan Lyons’ entertaining analysis of cinematic laugh-makers, both live-action and animation, is easy and informative.

A professional animator experienced in both hand-drawn and CG animation, and a longtime aficionado and student of physical comedy and comedians, Lyons knows well whereof he speaks. His book offers a cogent and knowledgeable guide to both “presentational” comedians and animators who create characters who make with the funny.

A succinct history of the origins of comedy opens the discussion, including analysis of ancient Greek satyr plays, ...

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