From The New York Times:
Laughter may be universal, but what provokes it is not. Even within a culture, humor can change drastically over a relatively short period. This truth is abundantly documented in “City of Laughter,” Vic Gatrell’s study of comic prints produced in London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a period he deems the golden age of satire.
The humor on display in the prints of James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, and George Cruikshank — the big three in Mr. Gatrell’s pantheon — was often coarse, bawdy, scatological and obscene. Private parts were on graphic display. Chamber pots and their contents stood front and center. Prostitutes cavorted with princes. Everything that the readers of Jane Austen regarded as private or shameful was shown in living color, on large, beautifully printed sheets hung in the windows of dealers for all London to see, and to laugh at.