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2013 Books Issue | Jokes, bloopers, stories, and quotes to keep you laughing

Issue: "Terrific and timely," June 29, 2013

E.B. White said, “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.”

That quotation notwithstanding, here are reviews of three joke books, starting with Now That’s Funny! Jokes and Stories from the Man Who Keeps America Laughing (Reader’s Digest) by Andy Simmons, humor editor of Reader’s Digest and former editor of National Lampoon. Here’s one of its jokes I like: A man goes to his doctor’s office and says, “Give it to me straight, doc. I know I’m sick. How long do I have?” The doctor says, “Ten …” The man says, “What? Ten months? Ten weeks?” And the doctor says, “Nine … eight …”

Simmons offers up interviews and insights from some of America’s renowned comedians, including Woody Allen, Robin Williams, and Jerry Lewis. Though many of the legends’ stories are not as funny as one would expect, Don Rickles talks about the time he asked Frank Sinatra to come over to his table at a nightclub and say hello so that he, Rickles, could impress a girlfriend. Sinatra obliged by stopping by and saying, “Hey, Don, how are you?” Rickles jumped up from his seat and shouted, “Not now, Frank. Can’t you see I’m with someone?” 

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One more from Now That’s Funny!: “A man brags to a friend about his new hearing aid, ‘It’s the most expensive one I’ve ever had—it cost me $3,500!’ His friend asks, ‘What kind is it?’ The braggart says, ‘Half past four.’” (Note: Edgy language appears briefly in the book.)

The Laugh-a-Day Book of Bloopers, Quotes & Good Clean Jokes (Revell) by prolific humor author Jim Kraus is a joke book, pure and simple. Each numbered day has a main joke, followed by a blooper and a quotation. Goofy blooper example: “Fire Chief Stone spoke to our seniors and said they should all remember the ‘Five Ps’ of cold-weather safety: protecting people, protecting plants, protecting pets, protecting pxposed pipes, and practicing pire pafety.” 

One quotation from Laugh-a-Day: “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built Noah’s ark. Professionals built the Titanic.” 

Much of The World’s Greatest Collection of Clean Jokes (Harvest House Publishers), by licensed marriage and family therapist Bob Phillips, does not live up to the first part of its title, and much of it isn’t very funny. That being said, Clean Jokes does provide a gem or two, such as, “Once during a debate Abraham Lincoln was accused by Stephen Douglas of being two-faced. Without hesitation Lincoln calmly replied, ‘I leave it to my audience … if I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?’” 

Lincoln probably also knew the answer to this question: “What’s more clever than speaking in several languages?” Answer: “Keeping your mouth shut in one.”

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