How to Be Funny: The One and Only Practical Guide for Every Occasion, Situation, and Disaster (no kidding)

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How to Be Funny: The One and Only Practical Guide for Every Occasion, Situation, and Disaster (no kidding)

How to Be Funny: The One and Only Practical Guide for Every Occasion, Situation, and Disaster (no kidding)

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He once wrote to the Marketing Director of Tetley Tea asking, “when you changed from square to round tea bags, what did you do with corners? When Charlie Barnes’ millennial son forces him to reassess his Mad Men-era persona – newspaper and landline – through the lenses of his offspring, his wive(s), his friends and business clients, he is left trying to rethink his life, with entertaining consequences. Comedy genius Spike Milligan wrote hilarious poems and books but his letters contain some of the best material he ever wrote. Hugely influential, cynical and warm and funny, its the perfect coming-of-age book (or bildungsroman, if you're feeling fancy). It's strange how this novel has become a by-word for doomy, nihilistic introspection; I blame Mark Chapman.

Amidst heartache and grief shines the joy of the extraordinary sibling bond, so often taken for granted. But nothing comes close to the salvation of my teenage years, the epitome of Englishness: PG Wodehouse. Because by apologising to the moisture, I was conveying to Mr Chrysostom, in the most trenchant way possible, my own opinion of his character.

But Emira's inner life is so rich, and Reid has such an instinctively sharp and acid turn of phrase, that you're never far from a pearler. There are “regulars”: The Brother, a monstrous chancer; Keats and Chapman, literary dandies with a weakness for puns; and the Plain People of Ireland, a sort of unreliable chorus. Like the Thames navigation itself, Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) is unchallenging, charming and meandering; the narrator disappears up anecdotal backwaters and lingers at riverside inns to spin another irrelevant yarn.

In Vile Bodies, an ostensibly superficial comic novel (Waugh wrote to Harold Acton, "It is a welter of sex and snobbery written simply in the hope of selling some copies") Evelyn Waugh brilliantly, hilariously, unflinchingly but always humanely pinions a society which is in thrall to gossip and decadence, traumatised by war and financial catastrophe yet unable to stop itself rushing headlong into further and deeper cataclysm. This irresistible melange of love, family, sexuality and reads like the unbelievable creation of a bored housewife, while the impact is made in the gulf that exists between what people are thinking and what they are saying.

Watching one of the greatest minds of the 20th century proceed as though he were a blockhead is an inspiration to those of us who will not be advancing the field of quantum mechanics anytime soon. She’s clear-eyed about the prospects of the underdog and brilliant at capturing the desperation that lurks behind the smiles and bravado of those on the lower rungs – has anyone written about failure so well? Then, they learn that they’re instead being taken to a laser tag arena, where everyone dutifully complies, even though they’re in heels, suits, etc. I read it when I was about 26 and working on an old Fleet Street newspaper very like the one described in the novel. Consider the sentence construction stand-up comics use when they’re presenting the setup of a joke versus when they’re giving the punchline.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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