What are some great joke books?
October 20, 2009 3:03 AM   Subscribe

What are some great joke books, written with attention to the craft of how a joke or story is told?

Most joke books I see in bookshops look like someone has just found a huge amount of jokes online, then cut, pasted and paginated--many don't even bother to credit an author.

When I was young, I owned a joke book called Leo Rosten's Book of Laughter. It was obvious that Rosten was the sort of person you meet at parties who captivates an entire room with his stories.

Even though the book included some old jokes we've all heard, it was fantastic to see how a great storyteller approached the structure, tensions, peaks and troughs of a joke.

Can you recommend any similar resources? I suppose I'm less interested in just a bunch of jokes, but more in a collection of well-crafted jokes.

I already like listening to the Moth podcast.
posted by surenoproblem to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The only joke books I know are the silly, more childlike type, like Harry Hill's Whopping Great Joke Book.

I think you want something like Woody Allen's prose collection, which always reads to me like comic monologues, or Victoria Wood's collections (probably out of print but available all over the place second-hand). Both of these have that comic storytelling aspect.
posted by mippy at 3:24 AM on October 20, 2009

Jimmy Carr - The Naked Jape. You can see a clip of him discussing the book here.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:35 AM on October 20, 2009

Good call MuffinMan - I'm not a fan of JC at all but that looks along the right lines.

For something on stand-up, you might like Mark Steel's It's Not A Runner Bean.
posted by mippy at 3:37 AM on October 20, 2009

And for something completely different - Jokes Cracked by Lord Aberdeen.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:42 AM on October 20, 2009

I enjoyed reading Ted Cohen's Jokes (more humorous than other philosophy books, more philosophical than other joke humor books, natch). It's not perfect, but it's short and the jokes are pretty good.
posted by carsonb at 4:05 AM on October 20, 2009

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