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ReFocus: The Films of Elaine May$
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Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Dean Brandum

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440189

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440189.001.0001

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Teenagers on Stage—The Comedy of Elaine May and Mike Nichols

Teenagers on Stage—The Comedy of Elaine May and Mike Nichols

(p.23) Chapter 1 Teenagers on Stage—The Comedy of Elaine May and Mike Nichols
ReFocus: The Films of Elaine May

Mark Freeman

Edinburgh University Press

Elaine May began her career as one half of a comedy duo in collaboration with Mike Nichols, before both ventured into their own projects in writing and directing. This chapter takes as its focus the capacity for this early partnership to satirise the social and cultural expectations of the late 50s and early 60s, and the development of May’s comedic voice through her association with Nichols. Drawing initially on early biographical information, this will centre primarily on an analysis of their early sketch comedy, and extending through to their (often uncredited) collaborations on Nichols’ later cinema. I will confront the ways that the May/Nichols partnership shaped the writing and comedic sensibilities of May’s career, and the role Mike Nichols played in the development of May’s own distinctive creative perspective.

Keywords:   Elaine May, Women’s Filmmaking, Women Directors, Mike Nichols, Comedy, Compass Players

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