ACADEMIC TRIBES 2ND ED
Hazard Adams University of Illinois Press, 1988 Library of Congress LB2341.A3 1988 | Dewey Decimal 378.73
In The Academic Tribes, an English professor who has survived stints as a dean and a vice-chancellor “takes a gentle, satiric sideswipe at academia, its foibles, follies, and myths” (ALA Booklist). This parody of anthropological analysis allows Hazard Adams to describe the principles and antinomies of academic politics, campus stereotypes, the various tribes divided by discipline, the agonies accompanying each stage on the way to full professorship, and, of course, the power struggle between faculties and academic administrators. For this first paperback edition, Adams has written a new preface, in which he looks back at the decade since the book was originally published, and has included an appendix of three relevant essays that appeared since the original publication.
Russia has fascinated outsiders for centuries, and according to Alicia Chudo, it is high time this borscht stopped. In this hilarious send up of Russian literature and history, Chudo takes no prisoners as she examines Russia's great tradition of unreadable geniuses, revolutionaries who can't hit the broad side of a tsar, and Soviets who like their vodka but love their tractors.
Written in the tradition of 1066and All That, The Pooh Perplex, and The Classics Redefined, And Quiet Flows the Vodka will, with any luck, be the final word on the ghastly first two millennia of Russian literature, history, and culture.
Ding Darling was a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist whose work appeared daily on the front page of the Des Moines Register between 1906 and 1949 and also was syndicated in 135 newspapers across the country. A brief encounter with Herbert Hoover during World War I was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until Ding’s death in 1962. After Hoover’s election as president, Ding’s relationship changed somewhat from one of strictly a friend to one of an unofficial advisor. On at least three occasions, the Darlings were overnight guests at the White House. Although their friendship deepened after the years of the presidency, Ding did not agree with Hoover on everything. In As “Ding” Saw Herbert Hoover, Ding interprets the career of Hoover as food administrator, cabinet member, candidate, and president in 57 cartoons, personal recollections, and a running commentary of the times as told in the day-by-day headlines.
Phil Crossman University Press of New England, 2005 Library of Congress F29.V7C76 2005 | Dewey Decimal 974.153
“Several years ago it was revealed to me that creative nonfiction was a legitimate literary genre,” writes Phil Crossman. “It was the most liberating experience of my life. All these years I thought I’d been simply lying.” Crossman is a humorist in the Mark Twain mold: wry, satiric, and keenly aware of the shortcomings of human beings, but with a leavening of self-deprecation and underlying sympathy. Though rooted in a regional consciousness (coastal Maine), his humor succeeds in making the local universal. Away Happens considers daily life on an island in Penobscot Bay that supports both a tight-knit local community and a larger seasonal population. Whether he is recounting a debate that happened at the Lions Club over who counts as a “local” or describing his adventures getting the Thanksgiving turkey into the oven, ruminating on how the ferry schedule shapes island life or recalling a local crime spree, Crossman is funny, unsentimental, and authentically Maine. “There are only two places, Here, this island off the coast of Maine, and Away. Here, this place, is a small place and Away, everywhere else, is a big place, but make no mistake about it, Here is Here and Away is not. 1276 people live Here. Billions more live Away than live Here, although increasingly, during the summer, it seems otherwise.” —From the Book
Subversive, funny, and effortlessly droll, Jules Feiffer’s cartoons were all over New York in the 1960s and ’70s—featured in the Village Voice, but also cut out and pinned to bulletin boards in offices and on refrigerators at home. Feiffer describes himself as “lucking into the zeitgeist,” and there’s some truth to the sentiment; Feiffer’s brand of satire reflected Americans’ ambivalence about the Vietnam War, changing social mores, and much more.
Feiffer’s memoir, Backing into Forward, like his cartoons, is sharply perceptive with a distinctive bite of mordant humor. Beginning with his childhood in Brooklyn, Feiffer paints a picture of a troubled kid with an overbearing mother and a host of crippling anxieties. From there, he discusses his apprenticeship with his hero, Will Eisner, and his time serving in the military during the Korean War, which saw him both feigning a breakdown and penning a cartoon narrative called “Munro” that solidified his distinctive aesthetic as an artist. While Feiffer’s voice grounds the book, the sheer scope of his artistic accomplishment, from his cartoons turning up in the New Yorker, Playboy, and the Nation to his plays and film scripts, is remarkable and keeps the narrative bouncing along at a speedy clip. A compelling combination of a natural sense of humor and a ruthless dedication to authenticity, Backing into Forward is full of wit and verve, often moving but never sentimental.
“Jules Feiffer’s original and neurotic voice. . . . reinvented comics in the 1950s and made possible what’s now called the ‘graphic novel.’ His engaging new memoir is told in that same witty and perceptive New York cadence, mellowed and laced with wisdom. He’s an inspiration.”—Art Spiegelman
In Bad Language, Naked Ladies, and Other Threats to the Nation, Anne Rubenstein examines how comic books—which were overwhelmingly popular but extremely controversial in post-revolutionary Mexico—played an important role in the development of a stable, legitimate state. Studying the relationship of the Mexican state to its civil society from the 1930s to the 1970s through comic books and their producers, readers, and censors, Rubenstein shows how these thrilling tales of adventure—and the debates over them—reveal much about Mexico’s cultural nationalism and government attempts to direct, if not control, social change. Since their first appearance in 1934, comic books enjoyed wide readership, often serving as a practical guide to life in booming new cities. Conservative protest against the so-called immorality of these publications, of mass media generally, and of Mexican modernity itself, however, led the Mexican government to establish a censorship office that, while having little impact on the content of comic books, succeeded in directing conservative ire away from government policies and toward the Mexican media. Bad Language, Naked Ladies, and Other Threats to the Nation examines the complex dynamics of the politics of censorship occasioned by Mexican comic books, including the conservative political campaigns against them, government and industrial responses to such campaigns, and the publishers’ championing of Mexican nationalism and their efforts to preserve their publishing empires through informal influence over government policies. Rubenstein’s analysis suggests a new Mexican history after the revolution, one in which negotiation over cultural questions replaced open conflict and mass-media narrative helped ensure political stability. This book will engage readers with an interest in Mexican history, Latin American studies, cultural studies, and popular culture.
Robert C. Benchley's sketches and articles, published in periodicals like Life, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker, earned him a reputation as one of the sharpest humorists of his time; his influence—on contemporaries such as E. B. White, James Thurber, and S. J. Perelman, or followers like Woody Allen, Steve Martin, and Richard Pryor—has left an indelible mark on the American comic tradition. The Benchley Roundup collects those pieces, selected by Benchley's son Nathaniel, "which seem to stand up best over the years"-a compendium of the most endearing and enduring work from one of America's funniest and most penetrating wits.
"It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by then I was too famous."
The greatest hits of a school principal-turned-storyteller. A collection of humorous stories and tall tales, some based on urban legends and some original, honed in oral performance and written by a storyteller of national repute
The Blue Guide to Indiana
Michael Martone University of Alabama Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3563.A7414B58 2001 | Dewey Decimal 818.5407
The master of the nearly true is back with The Blue Guide to Indiana, an ersatz travel book for the Hoosier State. Michael Martone, whose trademark is the blurring of the lines between fact and fiction, has created an Indiana that almost is, a landscape marked by Lover's Lane franchises and pharmaceutical drug theme parks. Visit the Trans-Indiana Mayonnaise Pipeline and the Field of Lightbulbs. Learn about Our Lady of the Big Hair and Feet or the history of the License Plate Insurrection of 1979. Let Martone guide you through every inch of the amazing state that is home to the Hoosier Infidelity Resort Area, the National Monument for Those Killed by Tornadoes in Trailer Parks and Mobile Home Courts, and the Annual Eyeless Fish Fry. All your questions will be answered, including many you never thought to ask (like: "What's a good recipe for Pork Cake?").
Set in the days of small, local banks when embarrassing entrepreneurs were the one family in town who bought a new car every year—those cars everyone else called ‘gunboats—and the bad guys came with black hats, this rollicking send-up of stupid criminals who even Barnie Fife could have outwitted makes for belly-laughs while reading and memories that will bring smiles to readers’ faces.
The nineteenth century was a rough time to be a stray cat in New York City. The city’s human residents dealt with feline overpopulation by gassing unwanted cats or tossing them in rivers. But a few lucky strays were found by a diverse array of men—including firemen, cops, athletes, and politicians—who rescued them from the streets and welcomed them into their homes and hearts.
This book tells the stories of these heroic cat men of Gotham and their beloved feline companions. Not only does it introduce us to some remarkable men, but we get to meet many extraordinary cats as well, from Chinese stowaways prowling the Chelsea Piers to the sole feline survivor of the USS Maine explosion. Among the forty-two profiles, we find many feline Cinderella stories, as humble alley cats achieved renown as sports team mascots, artists’ muses, and even presidential pets.
Sure to appeal to cat fanciers and history fans alike, The Cat Men of Gotham will give you a new appreciation for Old New York and the people and animals who made it their home. As it takes you on a journey through the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, it will amuse and astound you with tales of powerful men and their pussycats.
From the all-star cast that brought you The Seven Deadly Virtues and The Dadly Virtues comes the ultimate Christmas survival guide: The Christmas Virtues.
The Christmas season is a minefield of terrors: The family get-togethers with weird uncles, the sloppy office parties, the annoying 10-page Look-at-Us holiday letters—and we haven’t even mentioned the Black Friday mobs and that wretched Alvin and the Chipmunks song that plays every 90 minutes on Pandora, whether you like it or not. Rum-pah-pah-pum.
And don’t forget the PC police lurking around every corner looking to beat the last bits of joy and comradery out of our society. Merry Christmas? Really?
But it doesn’t have to be this way. 'Tis the season to recapture the wonder of Christmas, in our hearts and in our homes and even out in the public square. The Christmas Virtues is a humorous companion for, and guide to, navigating the trials and tribulations of the holiday season. It’s a reminder of how we can embrace the joy, hope, and love of Christmas—of the real Christmas.
And a call for us to stand up for Christmas because America needs it now, more than ever.
So sit back and enjoy the following tales by your favorite authors:
Rob Long’s "The Christmas Spirit: In Defense of Ebenezer Scrooge.”
P. J. O’Rourke’s “The Commercialization of Christmas: God Moves (The Merchandise) in a Mysterious Way.”
Andrew Ferguson’s “Jingle Bell Rock: Taking the Christ Out of Christmas Songs”
Matt Labash’s “Home for the Holidays: The Trials and Tribulations of Family.”
Stephen F. Hayes’ "here Comes Santa Claus: The Wonder of Christmas Morning."
Toby Young’s “The ghosts of Christmas: Holidays Past and Present”
Jonah Goldberg’s “The War on Christmas: It’s Real, and It’s Spectacular.”
Christopher Buckley’s “Saint Joseph: The Forgotten ‘Father Christmas.’”
Kirsten Powers’ “The first Noel: Christmas with Jesus.”
James Lileks' "Boxing Day and the Christmas Hangover."
Wendy Gan’s Comic China investigates the circumstances and motivations of cross-cultural humor. How do works that trade in laughter shape our understanding of Western discourses about China? Is humor meant to be inclusive or exclusive? Does it protect or challenge the status quo? Gan suggests that the simple, straightforward laugh may actually be a far more intricate negotiation of power relations.
Gan unpacks texts by authors who had little real contact with China as well as writers whose proximity to China influenced their representations. Looking beyond the familiar canon of serious modernist texts and the Yellow Peril classics of popular fiction, Gan analyzes turn-of-the-twentieth-century musical comedies set in the Far East, Ernest Bramah’s chinoiserie-inspired tales, and interwar travel writing. She also considers the comic works of the missionary Arthur Henderson Smith, the former Maritime Customs Officer J.O.P. Bland, and the Shanghai journalist and advertising man Carl Crow.
Though it includes humor that is less than complimentary to the Chinese, Comic China reminds us that laughter is tied to our common humanity. Gan navigates the humor used in comic depictions ultimately to find, not superiority or ridicule, but common ground.
"Polhemus sketches several distinctions between nineteenth- and twentieth-century novelists and concludes that what most characterizes the nineteenth century, from the perspective of the twentieth, is the tendency in its comic fiction to criticize and to undermine the dogma and institutions of religion and to put faith instead of the existence of the comic perspective. Comic Faith is a virtuoso performance of impressive stature; I suspect the book will be influential for many years to come."—John Halperin, Modern Fiction Studies
The first collection of critical essays on Maus, the searing account of one Holocaust survivor's experiences rendered in comic book form.
In 1992, Art Spiegelmans two-volume illustrated work Maus: A Survivor’s Tale was awarded a special-category Pulitzer Prize. In a comic book form, Spiegelman tells the gripping, heart-rending story of his father's experiences in the Holocaust. The book renders in stark clarity the trials Spiegelman's father endured as a Jewish refugee in the ghettos and concentration camps of Poland during World War II, his American life following his immigration to New York, and the author's own troubled sense of self as he grapples with his father's history. Mixing autobiography, biography, and oral history in the comic form, Maus has been hailed as a daring work of postmodern narration and as a vivid example of the power of the graphic narrative.
Now, for the first time in one collection, prominent scholars in a variety of fields take on Spiegelman's text and offer it the critical and artistic scrutiny it deserves. They explore many aspects of the work, including Spiegelman’s use of animal characters, the influence of other "comix" artists, the role of the mother and its relation to gender issues, the use of repeating images such as smoke and blood, Maus's position among Holocaust testimonials, its appropriation of cinematic technique, its use of language and styles of dialect, and the implications of the work’s critical and commercial success.
Informed readers in many areas of study, from popular culture and graphic arts to psychoanalysis and oral history, will value this first substantial collection of criticism on a revered work of literature.
What do Jon Stewart, Freddy Krueger, Patch Adams, and George W. Bush have in common? As Paul Lewis shows in Cracking Up, they are all among the ranks of joke tellers who aim to do much more than simply amuse. Exploring topics that range from the sadistic mockery of Abu Ghraib prison guards to New Age platitudes about the healing power of laughter, from jokes used to ridicule the possibility of global climate change to the heartwarming performances of hospital clowns, Lewis demonstrates that over the past thirty years American humor has become increasingly purposeful and embattled.
Navigating this contentious world of controversial, manipulative, and disturbing laughter, Cracking Up argues that the good news about American humor in our time—that it is delightful, relaxing, and distracting—is also the bad news. In a culture that both enjoys and quarrels about jokes, humor expresses our most nurturing and hurtful impulses, informs and misinforms us, and exposes as well as covers up the shortcomings of our leaders. Wondering what’s so funny about a culture determined to laugh at problems it prefers not to face, Lewis reveals connections between such seemingly unrelated jokers as Norman Cousins, Hannibal Lecter, Rush Limbaugh, Garry Trudeau, Jay Leno, Ronald Reagan, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Bill Clinton. The result is a surprising, alarming, and at times hilarious argument that will appeal to anyone interested in the ways humor is changing our cultural and political landscapes.
From the all-star cast who brought you The Seven Deadly Virtues comes a book with a look at the good life… or the crazy-stressful-overwhelmed life… of a father.
The Dadly Virtues is a tongue-in-cheek collection of encouragement and guidance for any stage of fatherhood, from pacifying babies to prepping for senior prom, from cutting the cord to getting the first, “Best Grandpa” t-shirt. P.J. O’Rourke sets the stage with the chapter, “What Do Men Get from Fatherhood? Besides What They Put In …” and then is followed by:
•Matthew Continetti’s, “Newborn Terror: The Moment You Realize that ‘Bundle of Joy’ Is a Euphemism for Something Very Different.”
•Stephen F. Hayes’ “Siblings: The Best Gift You’ll Ever Give Your Kids.”
•Jonah Goldberg’s “Get Your Kid a Dog: The Moral Case for Pets.”
•Tucker Carlson’s “In Praise of Adventure: How to Fill a Child’s Life with Excitement and Danger (without Getting Them Killed).”
•Michael Graham’s, “Dating: Enjoy the Movie and Please Keep the Impregnation to a Minimum.”
•Christopher Caldwell’s “College: It’s Not as Bad as You Think; It’s Worse.”
•Andrew Ferguson’s “Emerging Adults and Empty Nesters: Just When You Had Fatherhood All Figured Out.”
•Toby Young’s “The Dark Side: Bad Parenting and the Things We Think, but Do Not Say.”
•Joseph Epstein’s “Thanks, Grandpa: Grandfatherhood and the Spirit of the Age.”
Father-to-be, two-time-dad, or granddad, each essay will make you laugh and, at the same time, reinforce your commitment to the virtuous—the dadly—life.
"Every writer has advice for aspiring writers. Mine is predicated on formative years spent cleaning my father’s calf pens: Just keep shoveling until you’ve got a pile so big, someone has to notice. The fact that I cast my life’s work as slung manure simply proves that I recognize an apt metaphor when I accidentally stick it with a pitchfork. . . . Poetry was my first love, my gateway drug—still the poets are my favorites—but I quickly realized I lacked the chops or insights to survive on verse alone. But I wanted to write. Every day. And so I read everything I could about freelancing, and started shoveling."
The pieces gathered within this book draw on fifteen years of what Michael Perry calls "shovel time"—a writer going to work as the work is offered. The range of subjects is wide, from musky fishing, puking, and mountain-climbing Iraq War veterans to the frozen head of Ted Williams. Some assignments lead to self-examination of an alarming magnitude (as Perry notes, "It quickly becomes obvious that I am a self-absorbed hypochondriac forever resolving to do better nutritionally and fitness-wise but my follow-through is laughable.") But his favorites are those that allow him to turn the lens outward: "My greatest privilege," he says, "lies not in telling my own story; it lies in being trusted to tell the story of another."
Collector of sexual folklore. Cataloger of erotica. Tireless social critic. Gershon Legman's singular, disreputable resume made him a counter-cultural touchstone during his forty-year exile in France. Despite his obscurity today, Legman’s prescient work and passion for the prurient laid the groundwork for our contemporary study of the forbidden.Susan G. Davis follows the life and times of the figure driven to share what he found in civilization's secret libraries. Self-taught and fiercely unaffiliated, Legman collected the risqué on street corners and in theaters and dug it out of little-known archives. If the sexual humor he uncovered often used laughter to disguise hostility and fear, he still believed it indispensable to the human experience. Davis reveals Legman in all his prickly, provocative complexity as an outrageous nonconformist thundering at a wrong-headed world while reveling in conflict, violating laws and boundaries with equal abandon, and pursuing love and improbable adventures. Through it all, he maintained a kaleidoscopic network of friends, fellow intellectuals, celebrity admirers, and like-minded obsessives.
Joe Blundo began his writing career at the Columbus Dispatch in 1978 and has been writing about Columbus ever since. In 1997, Joe was given his own column titled “So to Speak,” which quickly became one of the most popular sections of the paper. Raccoon dinners, Abe Lincoln impersonators, and things in nature that aren’t fair are just a few of the topics Blundo explores in this collection of the best of his newspaper columns. The columns range from hilarious to poignant to indignant—but all contain his unique voice and somewhat tilted way of looking at life. He’s especially drawn to the quirks that make Columbus what it is, people with a passion they can’t stop talking about, and recording the milestones in his family’s life. Sometimes he spouts off on the big issues of the day but more often he looks for the little things that others might not notice.
The least well known of Johnson Jones Hooper’s works, Dog and Gun was first published as a newspaper series, then appeared in six book editions between 1856 and 1871. Hooper is Alabama’s most celebrated antebellum author, and here he gives insight into the meaning of a culture where every male hunts – and a man who shoots as a gentleman will be assumed a gentleman. Beidler’s introduction to this reprint edition explores the social, literary, and technical dimensions of Dog and Gun, which he sees as an important commentary on class distinctions in the antebellum South, as well as a straightforward treatise on hunting.
Although the book is a manual for the hunter, with characteristic humor and a certain disdain, Hooper gives a full picture of the gentlemanly sport of hunting – clearly distinct from hunting for food – in all aspects including hunter, weaponry, and sporting dogs. He takes us back to an autumnal ritual of the hunt, where one is always a boy with his first gun – to the natural mystery of quest, competition, predation, pursuit, survival, bravery, endurance, and eventual defeat, called the mystery of the hunt.
This delightful divertissement is a lampoon of dueling culture set in southeastern Alabama, penned by a cousin of the better known humorist Johnson Jones Hooper. Interestingly George W. Hooper did not identify himself as the author, perhaps for fear that some enterprising duelist would decide he had been personally lampooned and take umbrage.
The main character is a figure familiar in outline to readers of John Gorman Barr, J. J. Hooper, Joseph G. Baldwin, and other practitioners of what is known as the humor of the Old Southwest. This tetchy blowhard is able to find a personal slight in every social circumstance of the most casual nature, to determine the only resolution that could preserve his personal honor is a duel, and then to find elaborate reasons why the affair d’honneur must be postponed indefinitely. The protagonist is accompanied by a Watson-like admirer of comparable wooden-headedness, who admiringly keeps track of all this punctilio—and constantly just barely avoids offending his patron at every turn.
The work ends with the provisions of the real “Code Duello,” which cede nothing to the fiction in sheer ridiculousness.
Brian Duffy has been poking fun at the Iowa caucuses for just about as long as they’ve been a media circus, since the 1970s. Now, the longtime editorial cartoonist has gathered a selection of his best images lampooning the politicians on their quadrennial stampedes through Iowa’s fields and towns.
Whether you’re anticipating or dreading the onset of another caucus season in 2016, this book will put it all into perspective. From Jimmy Carter’s innovative 1976 effort to Barack Obama’s come-from-behind win in 2008, from George H. W. Bush’s storming to victory in 1980 to George W. Bush’s coasting to his win in 2000, from Gary Hart’s peccadillos in 1988 to John Edwards’s missteps in 2008, from Elizabeth Dole’s determination to breach the White House boys’ club in 2000 to Hillary Clinton’s fall from frontrunner to third place in 2008, here is American presidential campaigning in all its glory. With pigs.
Combining the incisive pen of a newspaperman and the compassionate soul of a poet, Mike Royko became a Chicago institution—in Jimmy Breslin’s words, "the best journalist of his time." Early Royko: Up Against It in Chicago will restore to print the legendary columnist’s earliest writings, which chronicle 1960s Chicago with the moral vision, ironic sense, and razor-sharp voice that would remain Royko’s trademark.
This collection of early columns from the Chicago Daily News ranges from witty social commentary to politically astute satire. Some of the pieces are falling-down funny and others are tenderly nostalgic, but all display Royko’s unrivaled skill at using humor to tell truth to power. From machine politicians and gangsters to professional athletes, from well-heeled Chicagoans to down-and-out hoodlums, no one escapes Royko’s penetrating gaze—and resounding judgment. Early Royko features a memorable collection of characters, including such well-known figures as Hugh Hefner, Mayor Richard J. Daley, and Dr. Martin Luther King. But these boldfaced names are juxtaposed with Royko’s beloved lesser knowns from the streets of Chicago: Mrs. Peak, Sylvester "Two-Gun Pete" Washington, and Fats Boylermaker, who gained fame for leaning against a corner light pole from 2 a.m. Saturday until noon Sunday, when his neighborhood tavern reopened for business.
Accompanied by a foreword from Rick Kogan, this new edition will delight Royko’s most ardent fans and capture the hearts of a new generation of readers. As Kogan writes, Early Royko "will remind us how a remarkable relationship began—Chicago and Royko, Royko and Chicago—and how it endures."
Elliott Oring University of Illinois Press, 2002 Library of Congress PN6147.O74 2003 | Dewey Decimal 809.7
Elliott Oring asks essential questions concerning humorous expression in contemporary society, examining how humor works, why it is employed, and what its messages might be. This provocative book is filled with examples of jokes and riddles that reveal humor to be a meaningful--even significant--form of expression. Oring provides alternate ways of thinking about humorous expressions by examining their contexts--not just their contents. Engaging Humor demonstrates that when analyzed contextually and comparatively, humorous expressions emerge as communications that are startling, intriguing, and profound.
A few years ago, Christopher Buckley wrote of Bruce Jay Friedman in the New York Times Book Review that he "has been likened to everyone from J. D. Salinger to Woody Allen," but that "he is: Bruce Jay Friedman, sui generis, and no mean thing. No further comparisons are necessary." We are happy to report that he remains the same Bruce Jay Friedman in his unique, unblinking, and slightly tilted essays—collected here for the first time—in Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos.
A butler school in Houston, a livestock auction in Little Rock, a home for "frozen guys" in California, JFK's humidor in Manhattan—all are jumping off points for Friedman's baleful and sharply satirical scrutiny of American life and behavior in the second half of the twentieth century. Travel with Friedman from Harlem to Hollywood, from Port-au-Prince to Etta's Eat Shop in Chicago. In these pieces, which were published in literary and mass-circulation magazines from the 1960s to the 1990s, you'll meet such luminaries as Castro and Clinton, Natalie Wood and Clint Eastwood, and even Friedman's friends Irwin Shaw, Nelson Algren, and Mario Puzo. Friedman is a master of the essay, whether the subject is crime reporting ("Lessons of the Street"), Hollywood shenanigans ("My Life among the Stars"), or his outrageous adventures as the editor of pulp magazines (the classic "Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos"). We could sing his praises as a journalist, humorist, and social critic. But, as Buckley tells us, being Bruce Jay Friedman is enough.
Bruce Jay Friedman is the author of seven novels (including The Dick, Stern, and A Mother's Kisses), four collections of short stories, four full-length plays (including Scuba Duba and Steambath), and the screenplays for the movies Splash and Stir Crazy.
Polari is a language that was used chiefly by gay men in the first half of the twentieth century. At a time when being gay could result in criminal prosecution—or worse—Polari offered its speakers a degree of public camouflage, a way of expressing humor, and a means of identification and of establishing a community. Its roots are colorful and varied—from thieves’ Cant to Lingua Franca and prostitutes’ slang—and in the mid-1960s it was thrust into the limelight by the characters Julian and Sandy, voiced by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams, on the BBC radio show Round the Horne: “Oh Mr. Horne, how bona to vada your dolly old eke!”
In Fabulosa!, Paul Baker recounts the story of Polari with skill, erudition, and tenderness. He traces its historical origins and describes its linguistic nuts and bolts, exploring the ways and the environments in which it was spoken, the reasons for its decline, and its unlikely reemergence in the twenty-first century. With a cast of drag queens and sailors, Dilly boys and macho clones, Fabulosa! is an essential document of recent history and a fascinating and fantastically readable account of this funny, filthy, and ingenious language.
For more than a quarter-century, despite the admirable excavations that have unearthed such humorists as John Gorman Barr and Marcus Lafayette, the most significant of the humorists from the Old Southwest have remained the same: Crockett, Longstreet, Thompson, Baldwin, Thorpe, Hooper, Robb, Harris, and Lewis. Forming a kind of shadow canon in American literature that led to Mark Twain’s early work, from 1834 to 1867 these authors produced a body of writing that continues to reward attentive readers.
James H. Justus’s Fetching the Old Southwest examines this writing in the context of other discourses contemporaneous with it: travel books, local histories, memoirs, and sports manuals, as well as unpublished private forms such as personal correspondence, daybooks, and journals. Like most writing, humor is a product of its place and time, and the works studied herein are no exception. The antebellum humorists provide an important look into the social and economic conditions that were prevalent in the southern “new country,” a place that would, in time, become the Deep South.
Justus’s study focuses mainly on the humor from the area categorized in the federal censuses of the mid-nineteenth century as the Southwest: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and, eventually, Arkansas and Texas. Where it is pertinent, he also includes North Carolina and Missouri in this cultural map. Although some of these pieces may not precisely reflect their cultural setting, they are assuredly refractions of it.
While previous books about Old Southwest humor have focused on individual authors, Justus has produced the first critical study to encompass all of the humor from this time period. Teachers and students of literary history will appreciate the incredible range of documentation, both primary and secondary.
Armed with jokes, puns, and cartoons, Norwegians tried to keep their spirits high and foster the Resistance by poking fun at the occupying Germans during World War II. Despite a 1942 ordinance mandating death for the ridicule of Nazi soldiers, Norwegians attacked the occupying Nazis and their Norwegian collaborators by means of anecdotes, quips, insinuating personal ads, children’s stories, Christmas cards, mock postage stamps, and symbolic clothing.
In relating this dramatic story, Kathleen Stokker draws upon her many interviews with survivors of the Occupation and upon the archives of the Norwegian Resistance Museum and the University of Oslo. Central to the book are four “joke notebooks” kept by women ranging in age from eleven to thirty, who found sufficient meaning in this humor to risk recording and preserving it. Stokker also cites details from wartime diaries of three other women from East, West, and North Norway. Placing the joking in historical, cultural, and psychological context, Stokker demonstrates how this seemingly frivolous humor in fact contributed to the development of a resistance mentality among an initially confused, paralyzed, and dispirited population, stunned by the German invasion of their neutral country.
For this paperback edition, Stokker has added a new preface offering a comparative view of resistance through humor in neighboring Denmark.
Renowned cartoonist Sidney Harris turns his legendary pen loose on psychiatry and psychology in the laugh-out-loud, funny Freudian Slips. This hilarious collection of 150 cartoons -some published for the first time in this book--takes a lighthearted look at pop psychology, psychotherapy, human behavior, and the psychology of everyday life as only Harris can. Freudians and Jungians are certain to agree- this book is the perfect therapy to bring a smile to the face of anyone who appreciates a clever cartoon.Harris fans will surely want to add Freudian Slips to their collection of his other delightfully witty books, including Einstein Simplified, Can't You Guys Read?, Chalk Up Another One, So Sue Me! and Stress Test, all available from Rutgers University Press.
“Bottom line is, I’m the kind of guy who’s happy to go to the opera, but I should like to be allowed to wear steel-toed boots with my evening suit. I like to read Harper’s with a chaser of Varmint Hunter Magazine. Maybe that’s why I enjoy a good show under canvas. Here we sit, brain-deep in arts and culture, but we’re also just people hanging out in a tent, some of us wearing boots, a few of us wearing Birkenstocks, but best of all we’re breathing free fresh air filled with music.”
From Scandihoovian Spanglish to snickering chickens, New York Times bestselling author and humorist Michael Perry navigates a wide range of topics in this collection of brief essays drawn from his weekly appearances on the nationally syndicated Tent Show Radio program. Fatherhood, dumpster therapy, dangerous wedding rings, Christmas trees, used cars, why you should have bacon in your stock portfolio, loggers in clogs—whatever the subject, Perry has a rare ability to touch both the funny bone and the heart.
This irresistible collection of stories is perfect for anyone interested in a fresh perspective on what it means to be a human being who creates art. Grace Notes for a Year sheds light on the fragile and perilous process of inspiration, composition, and performance required to create classical music, whether the final product is a masterpiece or a mess. Each page of the book corresponds to a different day of the year and features a true story about a famous figure in musical history. These delightful anecdotes—inspirational, informative, and often hilarious—disprove the myth of the artist as untouchable. Instead, Norman Gilliland exposes in them human vulnerability we can all relate to. From Beethoven to Wagner, these artists suffered from poverty, spent lazy days in bed, had scandalous love affairs, and often failed in their creative endeavors as often as they succeeded.
The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate
Edited by Ruth Fredman Cernea University of Chicago Press, 2005 Library of Congress PN6231.J5G66 2006 | Dewey Decimal 641.56760207
Creation versus evolution. Nature versus nurture. Free will versus determinism. Every November at the University of Chicago, the best minds in the world consider the question that ranks with these as one of the most enduring of human history: latke or hamantash? This great latke-hamantash debate, occurring every year for the past six decades, brings Nobel laureates, university presidents, and notable scholars together to debate whether the potato pancake or the triangular Purim pastry is in fact the worthier food.
What began as an informal gathering is now an institution that has been replicated on campuses nationwide. Highly absurd yet deeply serious, the annual debate is an
opportunity for both ethnic celebration and academic farce. In poetry, essays, jokes, and revisionist histories, members of elite American academies attack the latke-versus-hamantash question with intellectual panache and an unerring sense of humor, if not chutzpah. The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate is the first collection of the best of these performances, from Martha Nussbaum's paean to both foods—in the style of Hecuba's Lament—to Nobel laureate Leon Lederman's proclamation on the union of the celebrated dyad. The latke and the hamantash are here revealed as playing a critical role in everything from Chinese history to the Renaissance, the works of Jane Austen to constitutional law.
Philosopher and humorist Ted Cohen supplies a wry foreword, while anthropologist Ruth Fredman Cernea provides historical and social context as well as an overview of the Jewish holidays, latke and hamantash recipes, and a glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew terms, making the book accessible even to the uninitiated. The University of Chicago may have split the atom in 1942, but it's still working on the equally significant issue of the latke versus the hamantash.
“As if we didn’t have enough on our plates, here’s something new to argue about. . . . To have to pick between sweet and savory, round and triangular, latke and hamantash. How to choose? . . . Thank goodness one of our great universities—Chicago, no less—is on the case. For more than 60 years, it has staged an annual latke-hamantash debate. . . . So, is this book funny? Of course it’s funny, even laugh-out-loud funny. It’s Mickey Katz in academic drag, Borscht Belt with a PhD.”—David Kaufmann, Forward
From the McDonald’s hot coffee case to the cattle ranchers’ beef with Oprah Winfrey, from the old English "Assize of Bread" to current nutrition labeling laws, what we eat and how we eat are shaped as much by legal regulations as by personal taste. Barry M. Levenson, the curator of the world-famous (really!) Mount Horeb Mustard Museum and a self-proclaimed "recovering lawyer," offers in Habeas Codfish an entertaining and expert overview of the frustrating, frightening, and funny intersections of food and the law.
Discover how Mr. Peanut shaped the law of trademark infringement for the entire food industry. Consider the plight of the restaurant owner besmirched by a journalist’s negative review. Find out how traditional Jewish laws of kashrut ran afoul of the First Amendment. Prison meals, butter vs. margarine, definitions of organic food, undercover ABC reporters at the Food Lion, the Massachusetts Supreme Court case that saved fish chowder, even recipes—it’s all in here, so tuck in!
“I’ve never believed that living in one place means being one thing all the time, condemned like Minnie Pearl to wear the same hat for every performance. Life is more complicated than that.”
In this remarkable book of days, John Hildebrand charts the overlapping rings—home, town, countryside—of life in the Midwest. Like E. B. White, Hildebrand locates the humor and drama in ordinary life: church suppers, Friday night football, outdoor weddings, garden compost, family reunions, roadside memorials, camouflage clothing. In these wry, sharply observed essays, the Midwest isn’t The Land Time Forgot but a more complicated (and vastly more interesting) place where the good life awaits once we figure exactly out what it means. From his home range in northwestern Wisconsin, Hildebrand attempts to do just that by boiling down a calendar year to its rich marrow of weather, animals, family, home—in other words, all the things that matter.
This volume is about puppetry, an expression of popular and folk culture which is extremely widespread around the world and yet has attracted relatively little scholarly attention. Puppetry, which is intended for audiences of adults as well as children, is a form of communication and entertainment and an esthetic and artistic creation. Of the many aspects of puppetry worthy of scholarly study, this book's focus is on a central and dominant feature--humor and comedy.
The first anthology of its kind, Humor Me is a celebration of humor by authors from diverse cultures. Sixteen of today's most exciting writers—among them Sherman Alexie, Gish Jen, Charles Johnson, and Lucille Clifton—are represented in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, cartoons, and graphic narratives. Whether using satire, parody, or farce, these writers explore the universal themes of love, family, sex, and race, and they do so in their own edgy, subversive, and sometimes skewed ways.
In Sherman Alexie's short story “Assimilation,” a Coeur d’Alene woman wants to cheat on her white husband with an Indian man, any Indian man—or, as Alexie puts it, “an indigenous stranger.” In Sandra Tsing Loh's essay “Daddy Dearest,” the author cringes when an old friend asks if her father still wears his underwear backward and does the Chinese snake dance on Pacific Coast Highway.
Nothing in Humor Me is taboo, as Erika Lopez proves in her illustrated tale of one environmentally conscious woman's attempt to subvert the tampon industry. Jim Northrup even takes on that American institution Jeopardy! in his satire “Shinnob Jep,” describing a game that quizzes its contestants on Native American trivia, including the categories “Trick or Treaties” and “Rez Cars.” From low-brow to high-brow, from belly laughs to the cerebral, Humor Me places internationally renowned writers such as Charles Johnson and Gish Jen alongside rising stars Paisley Rekdal and Michele Serros and a host of newcomers, including Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Daniel Chacón.
“Jewish stories,” writes Adam Biro, “resemble every people’s stories.” Yet at the same time there is no better way to understand the soul, history, millennial suffering, or, crucially, the joys of the Jewish people than through such tales—“There’s nothing,” writes Biro, “more revelatory of the Jewish being.”
With Is It Good for the Jews? Biro offers a sequel to his acclaimed collection of stories Two Jews on a Train. Through twenty-nine tales—some new, some old, but all finely wrought and rich in humor—Biro spins stories of characters coping with the vicissitudes and reverses of daily life, while simultaneously painting a poignant portrait of a world of unassimilated Jewish life that has largely been lost to the years. From rabbis competing to see who is the most humble, to the father who uses suicide threats to pressure his children into visiting, to three men berated by the Almighty himself for playing poker, Biro populates his stories with memorable characters and absurd—yet familiar—situations, all related with a dry wit and spry prose style redolent of the long tradition of Jewish storytelling.
A collection simultaneously of foibles and fables, adversity and affection, Is It Good for the Jews? reminds us that if in the beginning was the word, then we can surely be forgiven for expecting a punch line to follow one of these days.
Jane Austen and Comedy
Erin Goss Bucknell University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PR4037.J314 2019 | Dewey Decimal 823.7
Jane Austen and Comedy takes for granted two related notions. First, Jane Austen’s books are funny; they induce laughter, and that laughter is worth attending to for a variety of reasons. Second, Jane Austen’s books are comedies, understandable both through the generic form that ends in marriage after the potential hilarity of romantic adversity and through a more general promise of wish fulfillment. In bringing together Austen and comedy, which are both often dismissed as superfluous or irrelevant to a contemporary world, this collection of essays directs attention to the ways we laugh, the ways that Austen may make us do so, and the ways that our laughter is conditioned by the form in which Austen writes: comedy. Jane Austen and Comedy invites reflection not only on her inclusion of laughter and humor, the comic, jokes, wit, and all the other topics that can so readily be grouped under the broad umbrella that is comedy, but also on the idea or form of comedy itself, and on the way that this form may govern our thinking about many things outside the realm of Austen’s work.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Abe and his friend Sol are out for a walk together in a part of town they haven't been in before. Passing a Christian church, they notice a curious sign in front that says "$1,000 to anyone who will convert." "I wonder what that's about," says Abe. "I think I'll go in and have a look. I'll be back in a minute; just wait for me."
Sol sits on the sidewalk bench and waits patiently for nearly half an hour. Finally, Abe reappears.
"Well," asks Sol, "what are they up to? Who are they trying to convert? Why do they care? Did you get the $1,000?"
Indignantly Abe replies, "Money. That's all you people care about."
Ted Cohen thinks that's not a bad joke. But he also doesn't think it's an easy joke. For a listener or reader to laugh at Abe's conversion, a complicated set of conditions must be met. First, a listener has to recognize that Abe and Sol are Jewish names. Second, that listener has to be familiar with the widespread idea that Jews are more interested in money than anything else. And finally, the listener needs to know this information in advance of the joke, and without anyone telling him or her. Jokes, in short, are complicated transactions in which communities are forged, intimacy is offered, and otherwise offensive stereotypes and cliches lose their sting—at least sometimes.
Jokes is a book of jokes and a book about them. Cohen loves a good laugh, but as a philosopher, he is also interested in how jokes work, why they work, and when they don't. The delight at the end of a joke is the result of a complex set of conditions and processes, and Cohen takes us through these conditions in a philosophical exploration of humor. He considers questions of audience, selection of joke topics, the ethnic character of jokes, and their morality, all with plenty of examples that will make you either chuckle or wince. Jokes: more humorous than other philosophy books, more philosophical than other humor books.
"Befitting its subject, this study of jokes is . . . light, funny, and thought-provoking. . . . [T]he method fits the material, allowing the author to pepper the book with a diversity of jokes without flattening their humor as a steamroller theory might. Such a book is only as good as its jokes, and most of his are good. . . . [E]ntertainment and ideas in one gossamer package."—Kirkus Reviews
"One of the many triumphs of Ted Cohen's Jokes-apart from the not incidental fact that the jokes are so good that he doesn't bother to compete with them-is that it never tries to sound more profound than the jokes it tells. . . . [H]e makes you feel he is doing an unusual kind of philosophy. As though he has managed to turn J. L. Austin into one of the Marx Brothers. . . . Reading Jokes makes you feel that being genial is the most profound thing we ever do-which is something jokes also make us feel-and that doing philosophy is as natural as being amused."—Adam Phillips, London Review of Books
"[A] lucid and jargon-free study of the remarkable fact that we divert each other with stories meant to make us laugh. . . . An illuminating study, replete with killer jokes."—Kevin McCardle, The Herald (Glasgow)
"Cohen is an ardent joke-maker, keen to offer us a glimpse of how jokes are crafted and to have us dwell rather longer on their effects."—Barry C. Smith, Times Literary Supplement
"Because Ted Cohen loves jokes, we come to appreciate them more, and perhaps think further about the quality of good humor and the appropriateness of laughter in our lives."—Steve Carlson, Christian Science Monitor
Nothing in the understanding of humor is as simple as it might seem. In Joking Asides, Elliott Oring confronts the problems of humor, analyzing the key contemporary approaches to its study and addressing controversial topics with new empirical data and insights.
A folklorist drawn to the study of humor, Oring developed his formulation of “appropriate incongruity” as a frame to understand what jokes must do to produce humor. He tests appropriate incongruity against other major positions in the field, including the general theory of verbal humor, conceptual integration theory, benign violation theory, and false-belief theory. Oring draws on the work of scholars from several disciplines—anthropology, folklore, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and literature—to ask basic questions about the construction and evolution of jokes, untangle the matter of who the actual targets of a joke might be, and characterize the artistic qualities of jokes and joke performances.
Although Oring guides the reader through a forest of jokes and joke genres, this is not a joke book. A major work from a major scholar, Joking Asides is a rigorous exploration of theoretical approaches to jokes and their functions and is filled with disquieting questions, penetrating criticisms, and original observations. Written in a clear and accessible style, this book will prove valuable to any scholar or student who takes matters of jokes and joking seriously.
What’s wrong with the contemporary American medical system? What does it mean when a state’s democratic presidential primary casts 40% of its votes for a felon incarcerated in another state? What’s so bad about teaching by PowerPoint? What is truly the dirtiest word in America?
These are just a few of the engaging and controversial issues that Michael Blumenthal, poet, novelist, essayist, and law professor, tackles in this collection of poignant essays commissioned by West Virginia Public Radio.
In these brief essays, Blumenthal provides unconventional insights into our contemporary political, educational, and social systems, challenging us to look beyond the headlines to the psychological and sociological realities that underlie our conventional thinking.
As a widely published poet and novelist, Blumenthal brings along a lawyer’s analytical ability with his literary sensibility, effortlessly facilitating a distinction between the clichés of today’s pallid political discourse and the deeper realities that lie beneath. This collection will captivate and provoke those with an interest in literature, politics, law, and the unwritten rules of our social and political engagements.
Originally published in November 1939, two months after World War II officially began, James Thurber's parable in pictures-- a graphic novel ahead of its day--about eternal cycles of war, peace, love, and the resilience of one little flower remains as relevant today as it was then. The New York Times called it "at once one of the most serious and one of the most hilarious contributions on war."
Civilization has collapsed after World War XII, dogs have deserted their masters, all the groves and gardens have been destroyed, and love has vanished from the earth. Then one day, "a young girl who had never seen a flower chanced to come upon the last one in the world." Written among the sorrow and chaos of war, dedicated to this only child " in the wistful hope that her world will be better than mine." The new printing will feature new scans of Thurber's original 1939 drawings.
Widely publicized in mass media worldwide, high-profile tragedies and celebrity scandals—the untimely deaths of Michael Jackson and Princess Diana, the embarrassing affairs of Tiger Woods and President Clinton, the 9/11 attacks or the Challenger space shuttle explosion—often provoke nervous laughter and black humor. If in the past this snarky folklore may have been shared among friends and uttered behind closed doors, today the Internet's ubiquity and instant interactivity propels such humor across a much more extensive and digitally mediated discursive space. New media not only let more people "in on the joke," but they have also become the "go-to" formats for engaging in symbolic interaction, especially in times of anxiety or emotional suppression, by providing users an expansive forum for humorous, combative, or intellectual communication, including jokes that cross the line of propriety and good taste.
Moving through engaging case studies of Internet-derived humor about momentous disasters in recent American popular culture and history, The Last Laugh chronicles how and why new media have become a predominant means of vernacular expression. Trevor J. Blank argues that computer-mediated communication has helped to compensate for users' sense of physical detachment in the "real" world, while generating newly meaningful and dynamic opportunities for the creation and dissemination of folklore. Drawing together recent developments in new media studies with the analytical tools of folklore studies, he makes a strong case for the significance to contemporary folklore of technologically driven trends in folk and mass culture.
"How can anyone laugh who knows of old age, disease, and death?"—Buddhacarita
This question, so solemnly posed by the young Buddha, first led Lee Siegel to examine the hitherto unexplored realm of Indian comedy. Laughing Matters is Siegel's account of two intersecting journeys: a search for comic traditions created and preserved in Sanskrit literature and a journey through modern India in quest of a laughter that persists across time and culture.
Hearing a boisterous and bawdy voice from India's past, Siegel has provided original and highly entertaining translations of Sanskrit literature that reveal a sparkling sensibility embedded in the texts. These translations are integrated with a detailed analysis of the types and structures of India's mirth. Siegel develops an original theory of comedy and laughter, applying it to reveal the humor in the ancient works. Defining sacred and profane comedy and the "taste" and "erotics" of laughter, he delineates two main Indian categories of comedy—laughter at others and laughter at oneself—which are roughly parallel to the Western traditions of satire and humor. He examines these categories in all of their forms and functions: satires of manners, social satire, and religious satire; and human and divine comedy. Siegel concludes by presenting his perceptions of humor in modern India as seen through cartoons, movies, books, and social gatherings.
Laughing Matters is both a serious and a hilarious study of the Indian comic sense of life—a vision formed in the convergence of the bitter insight of satire and the sweet outlook of humor. Past and present, the contextual and the universal, scholarship and the picaresque, are all interwoven in this original treatise on the aesthetics of comedy and the psychology of laughter.
Lewis Nordan: Humor, Heartbreak, and Hope examines and celebrates the work of southern writer Lewis “Buddy” Nordan, whose stories reveal his own pain and humanity and in their honesty force us to recognize ourselves within them.
Written by scholars and fiction writers who represent a fascinating range of experience—from a Shakespearean scholar to English professors to a former student of Nordan’s—this is a rich array of essays, poems, and visual arts in tribute to this increasingly important writer. The collection deepens the base of scholarship on Nordan, and contextualizes his work in relation to other important southern writers such as William Faulkner and Eudora Welty.
Nordan was born and raised in Mississippi before moving to Alabama to pursue his Ph.D. at Auburn University. He taught for several years at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and retired from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a professor of English. Nordan has written four novels, three collections of short stories, and a memoir entitled Boy with Loaded Gun. His second novel, Wolf Whistle, won the Southern Book Award, and his subsequent novel, The Sharpshooter Blues, won the Notable Book Award from the American Library Association and the Fiction Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. Nordan is renowned for his distinctive comic writing style, even while addressing more serious personal and cultural issues such as heartbreak, loss, violence, and racism. He transforms tragic characters and events into moments of artistic transcendence, illuminating what he calls the “history of all human beings.”
Lincoln's Sense of Humor
Richard Carwardine Southern Illinois University Press, 2017 Library of Congress E457.2.C355 2017 | Dewey Decimal 973.7092
Winner, Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Prize, 2018
Winner, ISHS Annual Award for a Scholarly Publication, 2018
Abraham Lincoln was the first president to make storytelling, jokes, and laughter tools of the office, and his natural sense of humor has become legendary. Lincoln’s Sense of Humor registers the variety, complexity of purpose, and ethical dimension of Lincoln’s humor and pinpoints the political risks Lincoln ran in telling jokes while the nation was engaged in a bloody struggle for existence.
Complete with amusing anecdotes, this book shows how Lincoln’s uses of humor evolved as he matured and explores its versatility, range of expressions, and multiple sources: western tall tales, morality stories, bawdy jokes, linguistic tricks, absurdities, political satire, and sharp wit. While Lincoln excelled at self-mockery, nothing gave him greater pleasure than satirical work lampooning hypocrisy and ethical double standards. He particularly enjoyed David R. Locke’s satiric writings by Petroleum V. Nasby, a fictional bigoted secessionist preacher, and the book explores the nuances of Lincoln’s enthusiasm for what he called Locke’s genius, showing the moral springs of Lincoln’s humor.
Richard Carwardine methodically demonstrates that Lincoln’s funny stories were the means of securing political or personal advantage, sometimes by frontal assault on opponents but more often by depiction through parable, obfuscation through hilarity, refusal through wit, and diversion through cunning. Throughout his life Lincoln worked to develop the humorist’s craft and hone the art of storytelling. His jokes were valuable in advancing his careers as politician and lawyer and in navigating his course during a storm-tossed presidency. His merriness, however, coexisted with self-absorbed contemplation and melancholy. Humor was his lifeline; dark levity acted as a tonic, giving Lincoln strength to tackle the severe challenges he faced. At the same time, a reputation for unrestrained, uncontrollable humor gave welcome ammunition to his political foes. In fact, Lincoln’s jocularity elicited waves of criticism during his presidency. He was dismissed as a “smutty joker,” a “first rate second rate man,” and a “joke incarnated.”
Since his death, Lincoln’s anecdotes and jokes have become detached from the context that had given them their political and cultural bite, losing much of the ironic and satiric meaning that he had intended. With incisive analysis and laugh-inducing examples, Carwardine helps to recapture a strong component of Lincoln’s character and reanimates the good humor of our sixteenth president.
Through dreams and shadows and strangeness, through blinding charms and eye-opening counter-charms, through moments of mortification and laughter—thus Stuart M. Tave traces the journey of the lovers, clowns, and fairies who populate comedies from A Midsummer Night's Dream to Waiting for Godot. Tave avoids the pitfalls of theory, taking instead a close look at particular works to give us a sense of the relations between certain dramas and novels that are called comedies. The result is a wonderfully readable book that renews our delight in the enchanting possibilities of literature.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, in its "perfection," is Tave's point of departure. Its characters fall neatly into the three groups of Tave's title and fulfill to perfection their functions of desire, foolishness, and power. From the magical concord of Shakespeare's resolution, Tave moves to works whose character face ever greater difficulties in reaching a happy conclusion. From Jonson and Austen to Chekhov and Beckett, he meets comedies on their own terms, illuminating the complex and individual genius of each. A masterpiece of practical criticism, Lovers, Clowns, and Fairies rediscovers the pleasure of reading comedies.
What do you call 600 lawyers at the bottom of the sea? Marc Galanter calls it an opportunity to investigate the meanings of a rich and time-honored genre of American humor: lawyer jokes. Lowering the Bar analyzes hundreds of jokes from Mark Twain classics to contemporary anecdotes about Dan Quayle, Johnnie Cochran, and Kenneth Starr. Drawing on representations of law and lawyers in the mass media, political discourse, and public opinion surveys, Galanter finds that the increasing reliance on law has coexisted uneasily with anxiety about the “legalization” of society. Informative and always entertaining, his book explores the tensions between Americans’ deep-seated belief in the law and their ambivalence about lawyers.
Mark Twain, American Humorist examines the ways that Mark Twain’s reputation developed at home and abroad in the period between 1865 and 1882, years in which he went from a regional humorist to national and international fame. In the late 1860s, Mark Twain became the exemplar of a school of humor that was thought to be uniquely American. As he moved into more respectable venues in the 1870s, especially through the promotion of William Dean Howells in the Atlantic Monthly, Mark Twain muddied the hierarchical distinctions between class-appropriate leisure and burgeoning forms of mass entertainment, between uplifting humor and debased laughter, and between the literature of high culture and the passing whim of the merely popular.
Mathematics and Humor
John Allen Paulos University of Chicago Press, 1982 Library of Congress PN6149.P5P3 | Dewey Decimal 801.957
John Allen Paulos cleverly scrutinizes the mathematical structures of jokes, puns, paradoxes, spoonerisms, riddles, and other forms of humor, drawing examples from such sources as Rabelais, Shakespeare, James Beattie, René Thom, Lewis Carroll, Arthur Koestler, W. C. Fields, and Woody Allen.
"Jokes, paradoxes, riddles, and the art of non-sequitur are revealed with great perception and insight in this illuminating account of the relationship between humor and mathematics."—Joseph Williams, New York Times
"'Leave your mind alone,' said a Thurber cartoon, and a really complete and convincing analysis of what humour is might spoil all jokes forever. This book avoids that danger. What it does. . .is describe broadly several kinds of mathematical theory and apply them to throw sidelights on how many kinds of jokes work."—New Scientist
"Many scholars nowadays write seriously about the ludicrous. Some merely manage to be dull. A few—like Paulos—are brilliant in an odd endeavor."—Los Angeles Times Book Review
Welcome to Mr. Dooley's place, a neighborhood saloon in the working-class community of Bridgeport, located on Chicago's near southwest side. Here matters of the gravest import are perused with homespun philosophy and good cheer. Covering the waterfront from Mack's (President McKinley's) foreign policies and political appointments to the Alaskan gold rush and juvenile delinquency, Martin T. Dooley holds forth from behind the bar, benevolently dispensing equal portions of wisdom and comical misunderstanding.
As Charlie McCarthy is to Edgar Bergen, so is Martin T. Dooley to newspaper humorist Finley Peter Dunne. Mr. Dooley in Peace and in War, originally published in 1898, collects brief, humorous pieces Dunne wrote for the Chicago Evening Post and the Chicago Journal. In an Irish-American dialect as thick as the foam on a pint of stout, Mr. Dooley and his friends discuss the military "sthrateejy" for American action in Cuba, "iliction" day shenanigans, Queen Victoria's jubilee, the "new woman," and the strange American sport of football, in which a player puts "a pair iv matthresses on his legs, a pillow behind, [and] a mask over his nose" and tries to kill his fellow men. Through his tall tales and speculations, Mr. Dooley reveals the pleasure and pain of being Irish in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century.
Clothed in the charming hyperbole and mislocution of the unflappable Mr. Dooley, Dunne's incisive social criticism flies unerringly to the target, exposing prejudice, hypocrisy, insensitivity, and plain old-fashioned humbug.
An institution at the Chicago Sun-Times, his home paper for more than twenty–five years, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Jack Higgins gathers for the first time in My Kind of ’Toon (Chicago Is) approximately 250 editorial and political cartoons. Over the years, he has filed syndicated cartoons from the Soviet Union, Hungary, Ireland, and Cuba. From his front-row seat he has lately focused on the highs and lows of the Chicago and Illinois politics that produced both the first African American president and a string of corrupt gubernatorial administrations.
Abraham Lincoln’s sense of humor proved legendary during his own time and remains a celebrated facet of his personality to this day. Indeed, his love of jokes—hearing them, telling them, drawing morals from them—prompted critics to dub Lincoln “the National Joker.” The political cartoons and print satires that mocked Lincoln often trafficked in precisely the same images and terms Lincoln humorously used to characterize himself. In this intriguing study, Todd Nathan Thompson considers the politically productive tension between Lincoln’s use of satire and the satiric treatments of him in political cartoons, humor periodicals, joke books, and campaign literature. By fashioning a folksy, fallible persona, Thompson shows, Lincoln was able to use satire as a weapon without being severely wounded by it.
In his speeches, writings, and public persona, Lincoln combined modesty and attack, engaging in strategic self-deprecation while denouncing his opponents, their policies, and their arguments, thus refiguring satiric discourse as political discourse and vice versa. At the same time, he astutely deflected his opponents’ criticisms of him by embracing and sometimes preemptively initiating those criticisms. Thompson traces Lincoln’s comic sources and explains how, in reapplying others’ jokes and stories to political circumstances, he transformed humor into satire. Time and time again, Thompson shows, Lincoln engaged in self-mockery, turning negative assumptions or depictions of him—as ugly, cowardly, jocular, inexperienced—into positive traits that identified him as an everyman while attacking his opponents’ claims to greatness, heroism, and experience as aristocratic or demagogic. Thompson also considers how Lincoln took advantage of political cartoons and other media to help proliferate the particular Lincoln image of the “self-made man”; underscores exceptions to Lincoln’s ability to mitigate negative, satiric depictions of him; and closely examines political cartoons from both the 1860 and 1864 elections. Throughout, Thompson’s deft analysis brings to life Lincoln’s popular humor.
What is nonsense? How has it permeated our day-to-day speech and thought processes in order to become a vital part of the way we interpret the world? In Necessary Nonsense: Aesthetics, History, Neurology, Psychology, world-renowned expert Irving Massey commits nearly forty years of scholarly musings on the topic of nonsense to the page. Employing a writing style of overlap, repetition, discontinuity, and contradiction in order to describe the history and of grammatical, philosophical, and semantic nonsense, Massey opens his readers to the cognitive possibilities of accepting nonsense as a fundamental human feature.
In Necessary Nonsense, Massey explores a range of literary and philosophical subjects, from Immanuel Kant to Lewis Carroll—parsing the ways in which nonsense permeates their writing and dialectics—including an exploration of the inability of those who suffer from Asperger's syndrome to distinguish between metaphor and nonsense, and an investigation of the neural signature of the nonsense words and phrases that occur during the transition from waking to sleep. Massey argues that while nonsense may be the “archenemy of reason,” it is also tied to the intrinsic nature of reason; the two, simply put, cannot exist without each other. Through a stunning array of exploratory topics, Massey concludes that we all live under a canopy of nonsense.
The 547 Buddhist jatakas, or verse parables, recount the Buddha’s lives in previous incarnations. In his penultimate and most famous incarnation, he appears as the Prince Vessantara, perfecting the virtue of generosity by giving away all his possessions, his wife, and his children to the beggar Jujaka. Taking an anthropological approach to this two-thousand-year-old morality tale, Katherine A. Bowie highlights significant local variations in its interpretations and public performances across three regions of Thailand over 150 years.
The Vessantara Jataka has served both monastic and royal interests, encouraging parents to give their sons to religious orders and intimating that kings are future Buddhas. But, as Bowie shows, characterizations of the beggar Jujaka in various regions and eras have also brought ribald humor and sly antiroyalist themes to the story. Historically, these subversive performances appealed to popular audiences even as they worried the conservative Bangkok court. The monarchy sporadically sought to suppress the comedic recitations. As Thailand has changed from a feudal to a capitalist society, this famous story about giving away possessions is paradoxically being employed to promote tourism and wealth.
Laughter, contemporary theory suggests, is often aggressive in some manner and may be prompted by a sudden perception of incongruity combined with memories of past emotional experience. Given this importance of the past to our recognition of the comic, it follows that some "traditions" dispose us to ludic responses. The studies in Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folklore and Popular Culture examine specific interactions of text (jokes, poetry, epitaphs, iconography, film drama) and social context (wakes, festivals, disasters) that shape and generate laughter. Uniquely, however, the essays here peruse a remarkable paradox---the convergence of death and humor.
Of Huck and Alice was first published in 1983. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Huck Finn and Alice B. Toklas allow Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein to slip away from the cramped and smothery intentions of proper writing. Like Krazy Kat, who transforms the hurt of Ignatz Mouse's brick into humorous bliss, Huck and Alice brilliantly misrepresent painful authority. As exemplars of humorous skepticism, Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein are at the center of this far-ranging book that begins with an examination of Jacksonian dialect humor, ends with an account of the humorous style in post-modern American fiction, and considers along the way the sweet parlance of Krazy Kat, the meaning of Harpo Marx's silence, and the iconicity of Woody Allen's face. Schmitz's analysis of the humorous style explores the texture of its language, discusses its preferred forms, and shows how the humorist frames his or her question within the text.
Fancy a tipple? Then pull up a stool, raise a glass, and dip into this delightful paean to the grand old saloon days of yore. Written by Chicago-based journalist, playwright, and all-round wit George Ade in the waning years of Prohibition, The Old-Time Saloon is both a work of propaganda masquerading as “just history” and a hilarious exercise in nostalgia. Featuring original, vintage illustrations along with a new introduction and notes from Bill Savage, Ade's book takes us back to the long-gone men’s clubs of earlier days, when beer was a nickel, the pretzels were polished, and the sardines were free.
From 1929 to the latest issue, American Literature has been the foremost journal expressing the findings of those who study our national literature. American Literature has published the best work of literary historians, critics, and bibliographers, ranging from the founders of discipline to the best current critics and researchers. The longevity of this excellence lends a special distinction to the articles in American Literature.
Presented in order of their first appearance, the articles in each volume constitute a revealing record of developing insights and important shifts of critical emphasis. Each article has opened a fresh line of inquiry, established a fresh perspective on a familiar topic, or settled a question that engaged the interest of experts.
If ever you suspected that economic humor is an oxymoron, read on. This anthology, offering over a hundred selections of economic humor in the form of essays, fables, cartoons, verses, parodies, and epigrams drawn from works ancient and modern, will disabuse you of that notion by way of laughter. The contributors, about evenly divided between economists and noneconomists, share a common urge to poke fun at economics and its practitioners. Their styles and methods, however, range from kind and gentle to mordant and misanthropic; this is not surprising given the diversity of their professions: diplomat, playwright, printer's devil, publisher, columnist, physician, inventor, minister, corporate president, radio star, New York Stock Exchange member, and philosopher, to name but a few.
Bringing economic humor into the light of day, Caroline Clotfelter gathers her collection of materials into recognizable categories: economists as others see them, the language and methods of economics, Econ 101, micro- and macroeconomics, and basic economic models and ideas. Aiding and abetting her include such luminaries as John Stuart Mill, George Bernard Shaw, Mad Magazine, Stephen Leacock, Emily Dickinson, Rube Goldberg, Pogo, and John Kenneth Galbraith. As no other, this book will challenge economists to enjoy jokes at their own expense; noneconomists may have even less difficulty finding something funny in this most dismal of sciences.
Caroline Postelle Clotfelter, former Professor of Economics, Mercer University, is now retired.
Permission to Laugh explores the work of three generations of German artists who, beginning in the 1960s, turned to jokes and wit in an effort to confront complex questions regarding German politics and history. Gregory H. Williams highlights six of them—Martin Kippenberger, Isa Genzken, Rosemarie Trockel, Albert Oehlen, Georg Herold, and Werner Büttner—who came of age in the mid-1970s in the art scenes of West Berlin, Cologne, and Hamburg. Williams argues that each employed a distinctive brand of humor that responded to the period of political apathy that followed a decade of intense political ferment in West Germany.
Situating these artists between the politically motivated art of 1960s West Germany and the trends that followed German unification in 1990, Williams describes how they no longer heeded calls for a brighter future, turning to jokes, anecdotes, and linguistic play in their work instead of overt political messages. He reveals that behind these practices is a profound loss of faith in the belief that art has the force to promulgate political change, and humor enabled artists to register this changed perspective while still supporting isolated instances of critical social commentary. Providing a much-needed examination of the development of postmodernism in Germany, Permission to Laugh will appeal to scholars, curators, and critics invested in modern and contemporary German art, as well as fans of these internationally renowned artists.
In Persona and Humor in Mark Twain's Early Writings, Don Florence explains that Samuel Clemens did more than use the borrowed name of Mark Twain to sign his writings. He also developed a separate identity, or persona, becoming "a literary personality in his own right."
Challenging mainstream Twain criticism on many fronts, Florence focuses exclusively on Twain's early writings. He demonstrates how Twain evolved in his early narratives into the "Mark Twain" we now recognize. Florence maintains that this process was evolutionary: Although Twain might have been dependent on Clemens for the initial experiences, they become Twain's experiences, necessary for his development as a persona. Traditionally, critics of Twain have been preoccupied with dualities, but Florence sees this emphasis upon polarities as an oversimplification. He argues that much of Twain's humor strives to shape more and more of the world, giving Twain multiple narrative voices and letting him be inclusive, not exclusive.
Finally, this study asserts that there is more continuity to Mark Twain's career than has been generally recognized. Many Twain scholars have argued that Twain's later writings are radically different from his earlier writings because of their emphasis upon illusion and dream. Florence argues that the preoccupation with illusion and fantasy is scarcely new. Whether Twain's mood is exuberant or dark, he emphasizes subjectivity over objectivity, the dominance of fantasy, the creative powers of humor, and his ability as persona to determine what we consider "reality." Florence contends that Twain's early writings show Mark Twain gradually evolving into a masterfully comic persona.
Jargon-free and eloquently written, Persona and Humor in Mark Twain's Early Writings provides a fascinating look at Mark Twain's developing genius and will be a welcome addition to Twain literature.
Philip Guston's Poor Richard
Debra Bricker Balken University of Chicago Press, 2001 Library of Congress E856.G87 2001 | Dewey Decimal 973.924092
In 1971, as the race for the presidency heated up, the artist Philip Guston (1913-1980) created a series of caricatures of Richard Nixon titled Philip Guston's Poor Richard. Produced two years before Watergate and three years before Nixon's resignation, these provocative, searing condemnations of a corrupt head of state are remarkable, prescient political satire. The drawings mock Nixon's physical attributes—his nose is rendered as an enlarged phallus throughout-as well as his notoriously dubious, shifty character. Debra Bricker Balken's book is the first book—length publication of these drawings.
A visual narrative of Nixon's life, the drawings trace Nixon from his childhood, through his ascent to power, to his years in the White House. They incorporate Henry Kissinger (a pair of glasses), Spiro Agnew (a cone-head), and John Mitchell (a dolt smoking a pipe). They depict Nixon and his cohorts in China, plotting strategy in Key Biscayne, and shamelessly pandering to African Americans, hippies, and elderly tourists.
As Balken discusses in her accompanying essay, these drawings also reflect a dramatic transformation in Guston's work. In response to social unrest and the Vietnam War, he began to question the viability of a private art given to self-expression. His betrayal of aesthetic abstraction in favor of imagery imbued with personal and political meaning largely engendered the renewal of figuration in painting in America in the 1970s. These drawings not only represent one of the few instances of an artist in the late twentieth century engaging caricature in his work, they are also a witty, acerbic take on a corrupt figure and a scandalous political regime.
The Pooh Perplex
Frederick Crews University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress PR6025.I65W65 2003 | Dewey Decimal 823.912
In this devastatingly funny classic, Frederick Crews skewers the ego-inflated pretensions of the schools and practitioners of literary criticism popular in the 1960s, including Freudians, Aristotelians, and New Critics. Modeled on the "casebooks" often used in freshman English classes at the time, The Pooh Perplex contains twelve essays written in different critical voices, complete with ridiculous footnotes, tongue-in-cheek "questions and study projects," and hilarious biographical notes on the contributors. This edition contains a new preface by the author that compares literary theory then and now and identifies some of the real-life critics who were spoofed in certain chapters.
Purporting to be the proceedings of a forum on Pooh convened at the Modern Language Association's annual convention, this sequel of sorts to the classic send-up of literary criticism, The Pooh Perplex, brilliantly parodies the academic fads and figures that held sway at the millennium. Deconstruction, poststructuralist Marxism, new historicism, radical feminism, cultural studies, recovered-memory theory, and postcolonialism, among other methods, take their shots at the poor stuffed bear and Frederick Crews takes his well-considered, wildly funny shots at them. His aim, as ever, is true.
A short political satire in which a President Trump nationalizes the Girl Scouts, privatizes the Supreme Court, and sells the state of California—his way of paying off the Federal debt. Nine brief chapters, each one resolving a real national issue with an excess of creativity and zeal. What happens when the zeal is spent?
We live in a time much like the postwar era. A time of arch political conservatism and vast social conformity. A time in which our nation’s leaders question and challenge the patriotism of those who oppose their policies. But before there was Jon Stewart, Al Franken, or Bill Maher, there were Mort Sahl, Stan Freberg, and Lenny Bruce—liberal satirists who, through their wry and scabrous comedic routines, waged war against the political ironies, contradictions, and hypocrisies of their times.
Revel with a Cause is their story. Stephen Kercher here provides the first comprehensive look at the satiric humor that flourished in the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s. Focusing on an impressive range of comedy—not just standup comedians of the day but also satirical publications like MAD magazine, improvisational theater groups such asSecond City, the motion picture Dr. Strangelove, and TV shows like That Was the Week That Was—Kercher reminds us that the postwar era saw varieties of comic expression that were more challenging and nonconformist than we commonly remember. His history of these comedic luminaries shows that for a sizeable audience of educated, middle-class Americans who shared such liberal views, the period’s satire was a crucial mode of cultural dissent. For such individuals, satire was a vehicle through which concerns over the suppression of civil liberties, Cold War foreign policies, blind social conformity, and our heated racial crisis could be productively addressed.
A vibrant and probing look at some of the most influential comedy of mid-twentieth-century America, Revel with a Cause belongs on the short list of essential books for anyone interested in the relationship between American politics and popular culture.
Raised on a small dairy farm in the Driftless Area in the mid-twentieth century, Gary Jones gets real about his rural roots. In this collection of interrelated stories, Jones writes with plainspoken warmth and irreverence about farm, family, and folks on the ridge. Readers will meet Gramp Jones, whose oversized overalls saved him from losing a chunk of flesh to an irate sow; the young one-room-school teacher who helped the kids make sled jumps at recess; Charlotte, the lawn-mowing sheep who once ended up in the living room; Victor the pig-cutter, who learned his trade from folk tradition rather than vet school; and other colorful characters of the ridge. Often humorous and occasionally touching, Jones’s essays paint a vivid picture that will entertain city and country folk alike.
New York Times bestselling author, humorist, and newspaper columnist Michael Perry returns with a new collection of bite-sized essays from his Sunday Wisconsin State Journal column, “Roughneck Grace.” Perry’s perspectives on everything from cleaning the chicken coop to sharing a New York City elevator with supermodels will have you snorting with laughter on one page, blinking back tears on the next, and--no matter your zip code--nodding in recognition throughout.
The rollicking tales of Old Southwestern humor were a distinctive contribution to American folk culture provided by the frontiersmen of the South and Southwest, a tradition brought to its highest form in the work of Mark Twain. Among the precursors of Twain was John Gorman Barr of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Like Twain, Barr grew up in a river town, worked in a printing office, and traveled widely; and again like Twain, Barr drew upon the people and places of his home region as the primary sources for his tales.
In addition to the pure entertainment Barr’s stories provide, they also furnish a comprehensive picture of Tuscaloosa and western Alabama in the 1850s—the roaring river town coexisting uneasily with the intellectual sophistication of the recently established University of Alabama.
Since its modest beginning in 1959, The Second City in Chicago has become a world-renowned bastion of hilarity. A training ground for many of today’s top comedic talents—including Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, and Amy Sedaris— it was an early blueprint for improv-based sketch revues in North America and abroad. Its immeasurable influence also extends to television, film, and the Broadway stage. Mike Thomas interviewed scores of key figures who have contributed to Second City’s vast legacy —its stars as well as those who worked and continue to work behind the scenes—to create this entertaining and informative oral history. The story is equal parts legendary highlights, gossip, and insight into how the theater’s brand of comedy was and is created. Unprecedented in scope and rife with colorful tales well told, The Second City Unscripted is an essential account of this iconic show business institution.
Ted Cohen was an original and captivating essayist known for his inquisitive intelligence, wit, charm, and a deeply humane feel for life. For Cohen, writing was a way of discovering, and also celebrating, the depth and complexity of things overlooked by most professional philosophers and aestheticians—but not by most people. Whether writing about the rules of baseball, of driving, or of Kant’s Third Critique; about Hitchcock, ceramics, or jokes, Cohen proved that if you study the world with a bemused but honest attentiveness, you can find something to philosophize about more or less anywhere.
This collection, edited and introduced by philosopher Daniel Herwitz, brings together some of Cohen’s best work to capture the unique style that made Cohen one of the most beloved philosophers of his generation. Among the perceptive, engaging, and laugh-out-loud funny reflections on movies, sports, art, language, and life included here are Cohen’s classic papers on metaphor and his Pushcart Prize–winning essay on baseball, as well as memoir, fiction, and even poetry. Full of free-spirited inventiveness, these Serious Larks would be equally at home outside Thoreau’s cabin on the waters of Walden Pond as they are here, proving that intelligence, sensitivity, and good humor can be found in philosophical writing after all.
Political jokes exist around the world and across many types of political systems. But what purposes do they serve? Do they have an impact on politics—or on politicians? Surprisingly, scholars have paid scant attention to these significant questions. And, until the publication of this book, no one had ever systematically studied political humor in Mexico. When the first edition of this work was published in Mexico, it caused a stir. Elected officials, it turned out, had grudgingly accepted that they and their politics could be the target of jokes uttered in public, and even on television, but they were incensed that a leading academic had collected political jokes into a book and analyzed their function in a country that had experienced nearly a century of one-party rule.
Now available in English for the first time, Seriously Funny is a groundbreaking work. Its goal is to examine the ways in which political humor—including nicknames, anagrams, poems, and parodies of religious prayers, in addition to jokes—has developed and operated in one country over more than four centuries. Although political humor thrives in Mexico, it is often cleverly encoded so that it doesn’t appear to be critical of government policies or officials. But, writes Samuel Schmidt, that is precisely its purpose: to question the actions and assumptions of the party in power. Schmidt argues persuasively that political jokes are acts of minor rebellion: their objective is not to overthrow a government but to correct its mistakes.
An all-star team of eighteen conservative writers offers a hilarious, insightful, sanctimony-free remix of William Bennett’s The Book of Virtues—without parental controls. The Seven Deadly Virtues sits down next to readers at the bar, buys them a drink, and an hour or three later, ushers them into the revival tent without them even realizing it.
The book’s contributors include Sonny Bunch, Christopher Buckley, David “Iowahawk” Burge, Christopher Caldwell, Andrew Ferguson, Jonah Goldberg, Michael Graham, Mollie Hemingway, Rita Koganzon, Matt Labash, James Lileks, Rob Long, Larry Miller, P. J. O’Rourke, Joe Queenan, Christine Rosen, and Andrew Stiles. Jonathan V. Last, senior writer at the Weekly Standard, editor of the collection, is also a contributor. All eighteen essays in this book are appearing for the first time anywhere.
In the book’s opening essay, P. J. O’Rourke observes: “Virtue has by no means disappeared. It’s as much in public view as ever. But it’s been strung up by the heels. Virtue is upside down. Virtue is uncomfortable. Virtue looks ridiculous. All the change and the house keys are falling out of Virtue’s pants pockets.”
Here are the virtues everyone (including the book’s contributors) was taught in Sunday school but have totally forgotten about until this very moment. In this sanctimony-free zone:
• Joe Queenan observes: “In essence, thrift is a virtue that resembles being very good at Mahjong. You’ve heard about people who can do it, but you’ve never actually met any of them.”
• P. J. O’Rourke notes: “Fortitude is quaint. We praise the greatest generation for having it, but they had aluminum siding, church on Sunday, and jobs that required them to wear neckties or nylons (but never at the same time). We don’t want those either.”
• Christine Rosen writes: “A fellowship grounded in sociality means enjoying the company of those with whom you actually share physical space rather than those with whom you regularly and enthusiastically exchange cat videos.”
• Rob Long offers his version of modern day justice: if you sleep late on the weekend, you are forced to wait thirty minutes in line at Costco.
• Jonah Goldberg offers: “There was a time when this desire-to-do-good-in-all-things was considered the only kind of integrity: ‘Angels are better than mortals. They’re always certain about what is right because, by definition, they’re doing God’s will.’ Gabriel knew when it was okay to remove a mattress tag and Sandalphon always tipped the correct amount.”
• Sonny Bunch dissects forbearance, observing that the fictional Two Minutes Hate of George Orwell’s 1984 is now actually a reality directed at living, breathing people. Thanks, in part, to the Internet, “Its targets are designated by a spontaneously created mob—one that, due to its hive-mind nature—is virtually impossible to call off.”
By the time readers have completed The Seven Deadly Virtues, they won’t even realize that they’ve just been catechized into an entirely different—and better—moral universe.
Like sex, Eileen Gillooly argues, humor has long been viewed as a repressed feature of nineteenth-century femininity. However, in the works of writers such as Jane Austen, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, and Henry James, Gillooly finds an understated, wryly amusing perspective that differs subtly but significantly in rhetoric, affect, and politics from traditional forms of comic expression.
Gillooly shows how such humor became, for mostly female writers at the time, an unobtrusive and prudent means of expressing discontent with a culture that was ideologically committed to restricting female agency and identity. If the aggression and emotional distance of irony and satire mark them as "masculine," then for Gillooly, the passivity, indirection, and sympathy of the humor she discusses render it "feminine." She goes on to disclose how the humorous tactics employed by writers from Burney to Wharton persist in the work of Barbara Pym, Anita Brookner, and Penelope Fitzgerald.
The book won the Barbara Perkins and George Perkins Award given by the Society for the Study of Narrative Literature.
This volume of The Snobs of England and Punch's Prize Novelists is an addition to The Thackeray Edition collection, the first full-scale scholarly edition of William Makepeace Thackeray's works to appear in over seventy years, and the only one ever to be based on an examination of manuscripts and relevant printed texts. It is also a concrete attempt to put into practice a theory of scholarly editing that gives new insight into Thackeray's own compositional process. In The Snobs of England, a series of amusing satirical sketches, Thackeray provides a panoramic awareness of the many varieties of human folly, identifying snobbery not as a social attitude but as the unworthy admiration of foolish things. Punch's Prize Novelists presents a series of illustrated burlesque parodies of Thackeray's contemporary writers, including Edward Bulwer, Benjamin Disraeli, Mrs. Catherine Gore, G.P.R. James, Charles Lever, and James Fenimore Cooper. The works are edited here from a comparative study of all relevant documents: from the first published appearances to the last editions touched by the author.
In the land of beer, cheese, and muskies—where the polka is danced and winter is unending and where Lutherans and Catholics predominate—everybody is ethnic, the politics are clean, and the humor is plentiful. This collection includes jokes, humorous anecdotes, and tall tales from ethnic groups (Woodland Indians, French, Cornish, Germans, Irish, Scandinavians, Finns, and Poles) and working folk (loggers, miners, farmers, townsfolk, hunters, and fishers). Dig into the rich cultural context supplied by the notes and photographs, or just laugh at the hundreds of jokes gathered at small-town cafes, farm tables, job sites, and church suppers. This second edition includes an afterword and indexes of motifs and tale types.
What we have here is another mighty slim volume from Michael Feldman, best known (when known at all) for his public radio show "Whad'ya Know" (sic). Feldman, who spouts off about things he knows "not much" about weekly, here writes them down:
· how to get your own radio show and what you can do with it once you do
· marriage (or as Feldman likes to refer to it, "a long-term bad relationship")
· child-rearing (although it sounds like it's the author who is being reared)
· a number of short pieces on places he and his crew have visited for their "remote possibilities"
· more references to "gentiles" than absolutely necessary (seems to be an issue for Feldman, although he is tickled with the
notion that, to a Mormon, he is one)
· some attempts to misrepresent scientific or social research for humorous purposes
· many personal revelations that prove the examined life is not necessarily worth living either
· and pages and pages of fluff.
Mr. Feldman has not been compared, to our knowledge, to S. J. Perlman.
But here is some of what Michael Feldman says in Something I Said:
"The paranoid no longer is: paranoia has outlived its usefulness when everybody is out to get us."
"Take the phrase 'no problem': I can use it, although it is the very opposite of my two-word world view ('Nothing works')."
"Whatever latitude beauty may have in the eye of the beholder, funny is not readily apparent to all, and, who knows, they may be right. More importantly, they may be bigger."
Includes a music CD by Michael Feldman and John Sieger.
If, as some suggest, American literature began with Huckleberry Finn, then the humorists of the Old South surely helped us to shape that literature. Twain himself learned to write by reading the humorists’ work, and later writers were influenced by it. This book marks the first new collection of humor from that region published in fifteen years—and the first fresh selection of sketches and tales to appear in over forty years.
Thomas Inge and Ed Piacentino bring their knowledge of and fondness for this genre to a collection that reflects the considerable body of scholarship that has been published on its major figures and the place of the movement in American literary history. They breathe new life into the subject, gathering a new selection of texts and adding Twain—the only major American author to contribute to and emerge from the movement—as well as several recently identified humorists.
All of the major writers are represented, from Augustus Baldwin Longstreet to Thomas Bangs Thorpe, as well as a great many lesser-known figures like Hamilton C. Jones, Joseph M. Field, and John S. Robb. The anthology also includes several writers only recently discovered to be a part of the tradition, such as Joseph Gault, Christopher Mason Haile, James Edward Henry, and Marcus Lafayette Byrn, and features authors previously overlooked, such as William Gilmore Simms, Ham Jones, Orlando Benedict Mayer, and Adam Summer.
Selections are timely, reflecting recent trends in literary history and criticism sensitive to issues of gender, race, and ethnicity. The editors have also taken pains to seek out first printings to avoid the kinds of textual corruptions that often occur in later versions of these sketches. Southern Frontier Humor offers students and general readers alike a broad perspective and new appreciation of this singular form of writing from the Old South—and provides some chuckles along the way.
Art is politics and politics is art in this study of post–World War I caricature art in Egypt and Egyptian politics. This book explores the complex meaning and significance of caricature art drawn to support the ascendant Egyptian Wafdpolitical party and its push for independence from British colonial control. The works of previously neglected Egyptian lithographers are also explored, especially those who adopted sophisticated European techniques while experimenting with a variety of new styles during a remarkable period in Egyptian history.
Caricature art by Wafd party artists was almostsui generis. It is distinguished especially by its sincere use of iconic, folkloric imagery, intended to rally nationalistic sentiments among an emerging Egyptian electorate that included many nonliterate citizens. Cannon’s research breathes new life into an influential yet largely forgotten artistic movement in Egypt, one that deserves recognition for its contribution to Egypt’s share of modern Middle East cultural history. Includes full color reproductions.
"Johnny Appleseed, Davy Crockett, Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and John Henry have all become heroes of American folklore. Some of them, like Crokett, were real, but all have become the subject of tall tales. This is a folksy history of the United States, told as if the characters were all real. This panoramic (if completely untrue) history begins with Columbus. . . . En route to its end in the 1940s (where traditional American heroes are enlisted to fight in World War II), it covers the great and small events of our national history, including the overlooked, but important ones, such as the invention of the prairie dog."—Washington Post Book World
Updated versions of Mark Twain classic stories in the best tradition of comedic writing. All of the stories were originally penned by Mark Twain, including "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." The author is a contemporary American storyteller who has included notes for readers and re-tellers in addition to an introduction that comments on Mr. Twain and the era in which his stories were written.
Published by Viking in 1991 and issued as a paperback through Penguin Books in 1992, Snow White became an instant classic for both academic and general audiences interested in how women use humor and what others (men) think about funny women. Barreca, who draws on the work of scholars, writers, and comedians to illuminate a sharp critique of the gender-specific aspects of humor, provides laughs and provokes arguments as she shows how humor helps women break rules and occupy center stage. Barreca’s new introduction provides a funny and fierce, up-to-the-minute account of the fate of women’s humor over the past twenty years, mapping what has changed in our culture—and questioning what hasn’t.
Bob Hunter The Ohio State University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3539.H94Z725 2017 | Dewey Decimal 818.5209
James Thurber’s Columbus was not today’s Columbus—or even yesterday’s. It was a Columbus he both knew and created, a place perched on the fringe of reality and the fringe of his imagination. It is the place Bob Hunter revisits in Thurberville, a book where the author separates truth from fiction and identifies what parts of the famous humorist’s hometown of 180,000 exist in the burgeoning metro area of more than two million today.
Thurber’s Columbus was a wild and crazy place, a city full of fascinating and sometimes peculiar characters, many in his own family. Because of the widespread popularity of his stories, that was also the Columbus that many of his readers around the world came to know. Thurberville chronicles those characters and explores that world. But it also examines the real city where Thurber struggled and then blossomed as a college student, worked as a newspaper reporter and a press agent, and achieved international fame as a humorist and cartoonist after he left town, in part by writing about the subjects he left behind.
Much of Thurber’s best work was cultivated by experiences Thurber had in Columbus and in his dealings with family, friends, teachers, and acquaintances there. They are worth a revisit and, in some cases, an introduction.
Trollope and Comic Pleasure
Christopher Herbert University of Chicago Press, 1987 Library of Congress PR5688.C56H47 1987 | Dewey Decimal 823.8
Challenging the sentimentalized and moralized view of comedy that prevails in modern criticism, Christopher Herbert outlines a theory of comedy as a mode whose dominant motive and function is the glorification of pleasure. Using this model, he presents a detailed study of Anthony Trollope that sharply contradicts the persistent image of this novelist as a conventional writer and complacent spokesman for middle-class pieties.
The comic mode as Herbert describes it was antagonistic to the repressive moral ethos widely prevalent in Victorian England. Herbert shows how Trollope, under a mask of self-proclaimed conventionality, employed this mode in a steady, sometimes scandalous critique of the Victorian subversion of pleasure. Drawing on Trollope's unpublished notes on seventeenth-century drama and bringing to light many instances in the novels of direct borrowings from old plays, Herbert demonstrates the inventiveness and subtlety of Trollope's deployment of comic materials. Thematically organized around such subjects as Trollope's investigations of sex, his formal structures, and his principles of "realism," Herbert's study includes detailed readings of two of the nineteenth century's most ambitious exercises in comedy: The Way We Live Now and Trollope's neglected masterpiece, Ayala's Angel.
Of primary importance for readers of Trollope and students of comedy, Herbert's study will also prove valuable to those interested more generally in Victorian and modern fiction and the cultural history of the Victorian age.
"Two Jews were traveling on a train. . . . " Many Eastern European jokes—and several of the charming and often hilarious conversations in this book—begin this way. From all regions of the world and from all walks of life, the characters are young and full of life and old and ugly; they are rabbis, matchmakers, students, and immigrants. They gossip and speak about everything from the banalities of the world to the unspeakable evils of existence all for a single purpose: to laugh and to celebrate the good luck of being alive.
As Biro recounts these tales, we hear not only his voice and the voice of his father, but those of generations of storytellers who have used humor to teach about the truly important issues in life—the delicacy of love, the fragility of friendship, the pitfalls of self-righteousness, the costs of narrow-mindedness, and the unpredictability of life itself. Biro artfully spins each story, lingering on the details, guiding the reader to the inevitable—yet always unexpected—punchline.
Taken individually, these stories will make you laugh out loud; taken as a whole, they form an invaluable record of the sensibilities of an entire people. Biro writes: "These Jewish stories of which not a single one happened to me, and of which I did not invent a single one, do describe me, do characterize me, do explain me. They are always my own story. And yours."
Vaudeville Humor: The Collected Jokes, Routines, and Skits of Ed Lowry contains vaudeville jokes, skits, and routines from the first three decades of the twentieth century originally compiled by comedian Ed Lowry (1896– 1983). Although occasionally found in bits and pieces in anthologies and in some period dramatic comedies, vaudeville humor has never before been available in one collection— performers rarely if ever kept a record of their jokes and routines. Fortunately, Ed Lowry was an inveterate collector. He kept copious notebooks of jokes and routines that he not only commissioned but also stole from other comics, clipped from newspapers, and copied from now defunct popular magazines of the day.
Editor Paul M. Levitt has reorganized the material into categories that preserve some of the flavor of Lowry’ s scrapbooks yet provide for finer distinctions. Part one, “ Jokes,” is organized by subject matter and cataloged by genre, dialects, and wordplay. From “ Accidents” to “ Work,” this exhaustive catalog of humor features over one thousand jokes with topics that range from city slickers and country hicks through midgets and old maids to Swedes and tattoos. Part two, “ MC Material: Biz, Jokes, Routines, and Skits” is germane to the job of master of ceremonies, routines, and skits. It features topics from fractured fairy tales to stuttering. Part three, an appendix, “ Ed Lowry Laffter,” reproduces a privately published collection that is now a rare collector’ s item.
“ Although some of the jokes can undoubtedly be found in other places,” explains Levitt in his introduction, “ I know of no source as rich as this one for the twenties and thirties, a period so abundant in humor that for years afterward it fueled radio, cinema, and television.”
A Very Serious Thing was first published in 1988. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
"It is a very serious thing to be a funny woman." –Frances Miriam Berry Whitcher
A Very Serious Thing is the first book-length study of a part of American literature that has been consistently neglected by scholars and underrepresented in anthologies—American women's humorous writing. Nancy Walker proposes that the American humorous tradition to be redefined to include women's humor as well as men's, because, contrary to popular opinion, women do have a sense of humor.
Her book draws on history, sociology, anthropology, literature, and psychology to posit that the reasons for neglect of women's humorous expression are rooted in a male-dominated culture that has officially denied women the freedom and self-confidence essential to the humorist. Rather than a study of individual writers, the book is an exploration of relationships between cultural realities—including expectations of "true womanhood"—and women's humorous response to those realities.
Humorous expression, Walker maintains, is at odds with the culturally sanctioned ideal of the "lady," and much of women's humor seems to accept, while actually denying, this ideal. In fact, most of American women's humorous writing has been a feminist critique of American culture and its attitudes toward women, according to the author.
Item #176: A fire drill. No, not an exercise in which occupants of a building practice leaving the building safely. A drill which safely emits a bit of fire, the approximate shape and size of a drill bit.
Item #74: Enter a lecture class in street clothes. Receive loud phone call. Shout “I NEED TO GO, THE CITY NEEDS ME!” Remove street clothes to reveal superhero apparel. Run out for the good of the land.
Item #293: Hypnotizing a chicken seems easy, but if the Wikipedia article on the practice is to be believed, debate on the optimal method is heated. Do some trials on a real chicken and submit a report . . . for science of course.
Item #234: A walking, working, people-powered but preferably wind-powered Strandbeest.
Item #188: Fattest cat. Points per pound.
The University of Chicago’s annual Scavenger Hunt (or “Scav”) is one of the most storied college traditions in America. Every year, teams of hundreds of competitors scramble over four days to complete roughly 350 challenges. The tasks range from moments of silliness to 1,000-mile road trips, and they call on participants to fully embrace the absurd. For students it is a rite of passage, and for the surrounding community it is a chance to glimpse the lighter side of a notoriously serious university.
We Made Uranium! shares the stories behind Scav, told by participants and judges from the hunt’s more than thirty-year history. The twenty-three essays range from the shockingly successful (a genuine, if minuscule, nuclear reaction created in a dorm room) to the endearing failures (it’s hard to build a carwash for a train), and all the chicken hypnotisms and permanent tattoos in between. Taken together, they show how a scavenger hunt once meant for blowing off steam before finals has grown into one of the most outrageous annual traditions at any university. The tales told here are absurd, uplifting, hilarious, and thought-provoking—and they are all one hundred percent true.
Before the era of fake news and anti-fascists, William S. Burroughs wrote about preparing for revolution and confronting institutionalized power. In this work, Burroughs’ parody becomes a set of rationales and instructions for destabilizing the state and overthrowing an oppressive and corrupt government. As with much of Burroughs’ work, it is hard to say if it is serious or purely satire. The work is funny, horrifying, and eerily prescient, especially concerning the use of language and social media to undermine institutions.
The Revised Boy Scout Manual was a work Burroughs revisited many times, but which has never before been published in its complete form. Based primarily on recordings of a performance of the complete piece found in the archives at the OSU libraries, as well as various incomplete versions of the typescript found at Arizona State University and the New York Public Library archives, this lost masterpiece of satiric subversion is finally available in its entirety.
The small Methow Valley community of Winthrop, Washington, has reinvented itself as a western-theme town. Winthrop women function as trail guides, wranglers, horse trainers, packers, and ranchers and work in an environment where gender stereotypes must be carefully preserved for the sake of the tourist-based economy. Yet these women often subvert and undermine traditional gender images with humor. How the wrangling women of Winthrop accomplish this challenging balancing act is a fascinating study of women’s manipulation of language and gender stereotypes in the modern West.
Kristin McAndrews states that she “began to suspect that the reason there was so little scholarship on women’s humor was that male researchers didn’t understand it, or perhaps they didn’t recognize it.” To examine the humor of one group of women, she conducted interviews with Winthrop’s female wranglers, collecting stories about their lives as workers and as members of their community. For all these women, professional success depends on courage, ingenuity, a sense of humor, and a facility with language—as well as on an ability to perform within the traditional gender stereotypes evoked by their town’s Wild west image.
Sam Venable is one of America’s seventy-six million Baby Boomers who are turning into their parents. He can’t quite see without his reading glasses, he thinks the music kids listen to these days is nothing but a loud racket, and his belt is mysteriously creeping up higher and higher on his chest.
The way Venable figures it, he’s roaring along the road (at about twenty-seven miles per hour, the average speed for someone his age) to Codgerville. You Gotta Laugh to Keep From Cryin’ highlights the observations and lifestyle changes (and a few other things he can’t quite seem to remember at the moment) that Venable has made along the way.
From the day his wife discovers his first ear hair, Venable begins to recognize the signs of old age. Though he had reconciled himself to daily fiber and a distinguished head of gray, he is one step further to an insatiable desire for cafeteria food and permanently leaving his car’s right turn signal flashing.
The news isn’t all bad, though. To his surprise, Venable discovers that his new appearance and habits have qualified him for the senior discount on breakfast at his favorite restaurant. After reading about a scientific study concluding that men’s brains shrink faster than women’s in the normal aging process, Venable has a new source of excuses to explain to his wife why he is missing important dates, times, places, and appointments.
As an official CIT (Codger In Training), Venable delights in other newfound freedoms. He can stand in a fast-food line and stare at the menu for a full two minutes without saying a word (besides, he can’t hear the people behind him grumbling). He can drive as slowly as he likes and has perfected the art of maintaining a death grip on the steering wheel of his car. And he really doesn’t have to listen to anyone anymore; he can merely turn their way from time to time and mumble, “Huh?”
From the swinging doors whose “Push/Pull” directions elude him to the high-tech mysteries of ATMs designed to baffle the elderly, Sam Venable’s rollicking view of life after fifty will leave readers laughing and happy to be a member of the AARP set.
The Author: Sam Venable, recognized for his humor writing in 2000, 2001, and 2002 by the Tennessee Press Association, is a columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. He is the author of a number of books, including Rock-Elephant: A Story of Friendship and Fishing and Mountain Hands: A Portrait of Southern Appalachia. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.