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Elements of Wit: Mastering the Art of Being Interesting Paperback – October 7, 2014
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"In his new book Elements of Wit: Mastering the Art of Being Interesting, Errett collects the sharpest people of all time -- your Wildes, your Louis CKs, your Rebecca Northans -- in order to help people like me figure out how to seduce women. Er, I mean, make my friends laugh so hard they piss themselves."
"An incisive and often hilarious look at the process behind the most memorable and effortless one-liners. Recommended." --Library Journal
"Wit, says the author of this playful and instructive book, is spontaneous creativity (though he proceeds to attach several codicils and caveats to both those words). Having defined his terms, he does an entertaining job of improving our ability to be amusing on the fly, by deconstructing (quite wittily) the techniques of some of history's masters of repartee." -- Toronto Star
Elements of Wit promises to teach the wit-deprived hordes how to become modern-day Oscar Wildes and Dorothy Parker...An entertaining book that...will inspire his customers to read as widely as possible and, with the help of a few martinis, crack a little wiser than before -- The Wall Street Journal
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This is delightful and thoroughly engaging book that takes a detailed look at the greatest practitioners of wit including the Oscar Wilde, who Errett shows was not nearly as clever or spontaneous with his witticisms as one might think, to Oscar Levant, rapper Jay Z, and comedian Russell Brand, who all truly excel at this art. It become obvious throughout the book that most great wits were not good conversationalists, which requires one be a good listener. You will pick up a lot of good tips for becoming more interesting, which the author demonstrates has much more to do with being interested than being able to make quick biting or ironic remarks.
It is an enjoyable book for a lazy Sunday, but the author's own attempts at witticism is only mildly amusing. For example, he writes (about Oscar Wilde): 'To return to the famous measure of overconfidence, Oscar Wilde would surely be a better-than-average driver, even if the automobile wasn't invented until he was in his thirties.' Some may say in the author's defence, that that is perhaps what wit should be, mild and pleasant without being over-powering. Hence, I think, depending on the reader, some might give this an extra star or two.
In my view, it has nothing to do with the Art of Being. Witty people are a certain way, which is artful, but this is no how-to on reaching personal enlightenment. The most readers will come away with is possibly an understanding of how witty people get that way. Many of them were miserable in their personal lives.