Document Type


Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

American wit and humor, Situation comedies (Television programs)--United States, Neal, Joseph C. (Joseph Clay), 1807-1847


English Language and Literature


Joseph C. Neal pioneered the urban frontier of the Old Northeast in depicting what he called "hard cases" from the Philadelphia slums in the long-overlooked Charcoal Sketches, first published in book form in 1838. His characters' inability to change with the times, their false and vulnerable toughness, and their urban vernacular language look forward to the humor of Mark Twain, political commentators, and radio and TV sitcoms. In Neal's work, the cash economy, the lightly ironic euphuistic character study, and metaphors of the city are used to describe the new social and ethical paradoxes of the urban-industrial world already emerging in the urban Northeast in his time.


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Publisher Citation

Sloane, David E.E. (2017). A Study in the Humor of the Old Northeast: Joseph C. Neal's Charcoal Sketches and the Comic Urban Frontier Studies in American Humor. Vol. 3, no. 2, 2017, pp. 178-203. doi:10.5325/studamerhumor.3.2.0178