Tuesday, January 6, 2009

American Humorists

Looked at the library... and nothing struck me as particularly hilarious in the Humor section. Give me some Dr. Seuss and a Mad Magazine. Still I sat with some of these books, looked them over, and discovered that they were 20% to 40 % humorous. Maybe the overdose of political correctness today has taken some of the funny away, this joke is mean, that one is kind of sexist, the funny must be just right.

Some literary put -downs from a joke book.

Mark Twain may be our most famous humorist. Then there's the New Yorker magazine crowd. (Benchley Parker, Thurber, etc...)
Some of Ring Lardner's sports stories were funny enough that even if you had no interest in sports, you still enjoyed the stories. Stories that spotlight human foibles always seem to work.

I've read some modern humor collections; stories by Woody Allen ~ The Kugelmass Episode is a favorite. Steve Martin, Dave Barry, ~ I've never read any Garrison Keillor, I tried listening to an audio book by P.J. O'Rourke once. He seemed very confident, had his schtick together, but it fell flat somehow. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood or it was his voice, I don't know.

I remember someone telling me about Norman Cousins and the laughter as medicine movement, and please take joke books as gifts for cancer patients because a Jackie Mason book can help them heal. Is anyone still doing this when they visit hospitals? Some say that chimpanzees laugh. A few people say a lot of other animals laugh.

To laugh is to be self aware, I forget where I read that. I don't feel very self aware this morning.

"Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke."
- Steve Martin

" I am a writer. I spend my days kneeling in the muck of language, feeling around for gooey verbs, nouns, and modifiers that I can squash together to make a blob of a sentence that bears some likeness to reason and sense. Imagine my ecstasy when I come across a hard, clean, bright, shiny number. Behold this gem of precision, perfect in its clarity and radiating mathematical reasonableness and arithmetical sensibility in every direction. I am free at last from the slime of words. Are shadows stretching their spectral arms to embrace the decline of day? Do vespers sound their quotidian knell? Does the gloaming echo with prelude to the nightingale’s descant? No! The sun sets at 7:56, and shut up."
-P.J. O'Rourke

Please leave a humorous comment.


Anonymous said...

2 silk worms had a race, it ended in a tie.

jenn's mama said...

still checking out your blog. great stuff. keep it up.

tut-tut said...

Why couldn't the violiin find the cello? Because it was Hayden.

tut-tut said...

That's L's joke, btw.

tut-tut said...

Another one from L:

How do you get Pikachu on the bus?

You Pokemon.

taco said...

Muppets are funny.

R.L. Bourges said...

I love Guy Wetmore Carryl - Fables for the Frivolous are great fun.

lettuce said...

stephen fry is continuing the Wildean tradition of extremely clever funnyness here in the UK

(not humorous, but true)

(tho its some time since i read any of his writing except for a very entertaining guardian column on gadgets)

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)