Tomb of the Unknown Comic
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Here's where you can show off your smarts and give recommendations for books no one has heard about or that haven't been mentioned in this group yet. Have an obscurity you want to share with the rest of the world? Throw it out.
Hmm, it's funny, most of the things I read none of my friends here have ever heard of (not even Pratchett), and here everybody and their dog owns it. So in my circle of friends my library consists mostly of obscurities and here I am so mainstream... I'll get back to you when I find something that I share with almost nobody.
I seem to be the only person on LT with anything by Phil Hogan (family/parenting columnist in one of our Sunday papers, so one of the two titles I have is a collection of his columns). I'm also the only person with more than one Barry Pain title, which is a shame. I'm impressed to see that Paul Jennings (who currently exists with two identities in the one author record) isn't known only to me - the writer of the Oddlies books, I mean. The other one is apparently quite funny although he might not intend to be.
Several people have novels by Christopher Buckley. I'm inspired by them to go out and get a copy of Florence of Arabia.
A very funny short story of his is "We Have A Pope," that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 2003 (on the web, but not the full text:
Anthologized in Dave Eggers, The Best American Non-Required Reading, for 2004 I think.
About an American p.r. guy hired by a bishop to influence a papal selection. (Not to be confused with several books of this title that are non-humor ((not intentionally anyway)) about the papal selection process. Buckley's version is a Lot more fun.
I just read Florence of Arabia recently and really enjoyed it. I'll have to look for that short story, it sounds like something I'd appreciate.
While I have absolutely nothing to put here, I think it's a great idea for a thread. But: 'you are being watched'...! ;)
I know of one other person who owns Journeyman by Brandon McKinney, so that seems to be an obscure comic. No idea what that's supposed to have to do with humour, though.
Well, although I already put them in under another topic, I see they more properly belong here, so: Idries Shah's The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasruddin and his other Teaching Stories are not only funny, but edifying to boot! Also, I haven't found any mention of T.C. Boyle's Water Music which is a rollicking romp from stem to stern. ;^) Hasta Luigi...
The Book of the Subgenius and The Principia Discordia, if you like religion with your humor.
I wonder how many people have actually read Jonathan Swift's work? A Modest Proposal is probably the funniest thing ever written in the English language... is it unknown if no one reads it because it is incorrectly assumed to be ancient and outdated?
The Embroderies by Marijane Satrapi is one of the only graphic novels that I have read but thought her humor pointed out a lot of what is wrong in the Middle East.
I think many don't see A Modest Proposal as funny becuase it is taught in school, which immediately drains all humor and wit out of any text. I can still see my ancient English teacher in her monotonous voice saying "this is an example of satire, now let me lecture on the definition of satire."
What's funny is that I've taught A Modest Proposal to show my students an example of satire, complete with that exact lecture!
But even then, I knew it was a terrible lesson. It was the very last day of class, and I really should have brought in something that was actually, you know, funny, at least to seventeen year old college freshmen. Because A Modest Proposal relies too heavily on contemporary knowledge to be taught in a freshman course.
Especially when there are a few (not many, unfortunately) good satires available today, ones which you don't have to explain the culture in order to explain the jokes. Any time you have to explain a joke, it's lost.
My first Christopher Buckley book was No Way to Treat a First Lady, which I listened to on audiobook. Has anyone else read/listened to this book? It's terrific-- I almost wept that Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are no longer alive to bring it to the screen.
Personally, I laughed my ass off at "A Modest Proposal" when I read it in high school. I got a lot of weird looks.
If you want to teach students satire but want to use something contemporary, just go for The Onion. Find a few articles without swear words in them and work from there. You don't need to teach the culture because it's all contemporary. And it's the kind of thing any teenager of at least moderate intelligence will find funny.
Yes, but it helps if the teacher "gets" it, too. Personally, I have yet to find anything in the Onion to actually be funny. It's like The Devil's Dictionary, which was mentioned upthread. I just didn't get it.
On the other hand, I laugh my way through Buckley books, and quite enjoyed I, Lucifer, which I read recently.
The Letters from a Nut books are just too funny. The author, Ted Nancy, is believed to be Jerry Seinfeld.
The letters are outrageous - asking would it be all right if he dressed as a giant shrimp while gambling at the blackjack tables of the Flamingo Hilton Inn in Las Vegas, for example. (The answer: "We feel that because of the high level of activity created by the outfit, it might be too distractive.")
As a side note, Mr. Nancy was the target of Hunter S. Thompson's vitriol a few years back, when he wrote to ask Thompson for some toenail clippings to be included in a Hunter S. Thompson mausoleum he planned to open. Anyone who can piss off Raoul Duke is okay by me.
It's not a book, but I have to give special mention to the new LT forum "Introverted in Chicago":
LOL! Well worth a look, esp. the hilarious exchange over "Bush Has Got To Go."
Thanks for calling it to our attention, chamekke.
Well, if a shameless plug is permitted, "Don't Let All The Pretty Days Get By" is my personal contribution to the canon. I'm certainly obscure enough, and one reader actually told me she laughed.
I am beginning to think I am some sort of freak. 68 of the first 200 books I have posted this week are owned by one or none in LT. I don't even know where to begin in humor recommendations. To me The Complete Beyond The Fringe is a screamingingly funny book, that everyone should have a copy of. If you want to know how showbiz came to be, The Brothers Shubert will open your eyes like nothing else. For pure zanieness, English As She Is Spoke (by Fonseca, not Mark Twain) is beyond compare. How can it be that I am the only one with a copy of George, Don't Do That by Joyce Grenfell? I do have all but one of SJ Perelman, and I do have all of Benchley. I had no idea all these and dozens more are considered obscure.
Clearly, I could go on for days, but let's see where this leads.
lutherf, a lot of us here love Perelman, Benchley & Thurber. But we don't have copies of a lot of their works, it seems.
I'm all for spreading the word(s)! I have several spares of both Perelman and Benchley, if anyone is interested in filling in the gaps. I sold nine Benchleys in one go on eBay last year. Probably a mistake. I'd rather they went to people who really care. In Benchley I have Chips Off The Old Benchley, After 1903 - What?, From Bed To Worse, Starring Robert Benchley, and some duplicate first editions as well. In Perelman, I'm down to The Best of S J Perelman, and Westward Ha! plus a first edition of Acres and Pains. I would trade for obscure volumes by humorists - particularly British - pre 1960.
He's hardly an unknown comic, but I just ran across a YouTube edition of Cosby's Noah routine. The photo editing ain't bad, but it's Cosby's delivery that's always made this one of my favorite comedy routines.
A book I read recently that was very, very funny was a collection by Shalom Auslander called Beware of God. I'd stay away if you have a problem with blaspheme.
A History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters by Julian Barnes is occaisonally very funny. The chapter on the afterlife had my laughing outloud on the train (heaven is apparently a place where you can eat all you want, meet celebrities and have really, really good sex. It gets boring after a while.)
George Saunders' CivilwarLand in Bad Decline is just plain awesome. The title story is jaw droppingly perfect. Comic fiction at its weirdest.
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