Funny is Between the Pages

Where do you find your funny?

This month, my blogging community is exploring the concept of humor. What is your sense of humor? What do you think is funny? Has it evolved over time? Devolved? Are you a Billy Madison or a 50 First Dates?

I have to admit, I'm having a hard time pinning my preference down. I can go high brow straight to the gutter, Monty Python to Benny Hill, Mr. Bean to Austin Powers, Ted Knight to Ron Burgundy. There's very little that won't make me laugh. Anything but Ace Ventura 2. The only movie I ever walked out on. Please, not that.

But I think the best laughs for me, aside from just about anything Will Ferrell, can be found in books. The set up might take longer, and require a little more brain power to get to the punch line, but the payoff is always worth it.

Being a book girl, I've got a soft spot for written parody and satire. If I think back, some of the earliest "adult" books I read were from the humor section. Don Novello's "The Lazlo Letters" comes to mind — a series of consumer queries meant to prank the companies they were addressed to, and most likely the inspiration for Jerry Seinfeld's (oops I mean Ted L. Nancy) "Letters from a Nut."

Then there's the social commentary under the guise of comics. "Calvin & Hobbes," "Doonesbury," and thank-God-it's-back-on-Facebook, "Bloom County." If you are not following Berkeley Breathed's page, I don't want to know you. I think he may be single-handedly navigating society through Trump World to a safe space somewhere under under Binkley's bed.

And of course, political satire. Sen. Al Franken made a name for himself in between SNL and the Senate by writing obstensibly humorous commentary on the political landscape of the last 20 years. Books like "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" and "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" will make you laugh, then cry. His latest, "Giant of the Senate" offers a form of comic relief at today's Washington, D.C. And then, yes, you'll want to cry. But at least you laughed first, right?

The biggest laughs from recent reads? I have to give it up for David Sedaris, whose essays and memoirs are the kind of storytelling that has you in tears and unable to explain what's so damn funny. I started more than 10 years ago with "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and now I'm anxiously awaiting the Part 2 to "Theft By Finding." Sedaris is funny and real and sad and more real and just human in the best way a writer can be. His willingness to open the door to his psyche is what allows people — his readers — to connect not just with him but with each other.

These days, a sense of humor is one of the few tools you can employ to get through to the next morning. Wherever you find yours, I hope you are checking in with it on a regular basis. Laughter and the connection it fosters between and among others is what is going to get us to the other side of now.

I blather about books. This is my 300th post! If you'd like my reviews to hit your in-box so you don't miss anything, you can sign up here. I promise a spam-free experience. I am also on Facebook, trolling for friends. If you're new to my blog, you might want to check out my annual post covering everything I read in 2016.Want a few humorous suggestions? For fiction, take a look at work by Richard Russo or Jonathan Tropper. For nonfiction, try:

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Living with a SEAL, by Jesse Itzler

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

Filed under: mumbo jumbo

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