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Only Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh? by [Carr, Jimmy, Greeves, Lucy]
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Only Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh? Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Carr, a British standup comic and host of the game show Distraction, and his friend Greeves, a freelance writer, deserve a round of applause for this entertaining and educational book about the history and practice of humor. In a delightfully roundabout way—leavened with a joke or witticism at the bottom of each page—the authors discuss theories of comedy, delving into trickster traditions, whether animals understand jokes, gender differences in joking, children's humor ("What's yellow and dangerous? Shark-infested custard"), ethnic and dirty jokes (e.g., the Aristocrats, made famous by the Penn Jillette/Paul Provenza movie), politically incorrect humor and the social role of antiestablishment humor. Tucked here and there are some delightful digressions, including a short bio of a dirty-joke collector, a history of joke books and the story of the development of television laugh tracks. In the end, Carr and Greeves remind readers not to confuse "seriousness of purpose" with a "solemn" attitude: just because people joke about something doesn't mean they're not taking it seriously. And that goes for the history of joking, too. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It's hard to talk about comedy without sounding, at least part of the time, like a humorless pedant: see Freud's Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. But it isn't impossible, as British comedians Carr (host of the Comedy Central game show Distractions) and Greeves prove in their lively, intelligent, highly readable, often hilarious coverage of all aspects of what makes people laugh--at least, in the English-speaking world. (Carr and Greeves carefully point out that humor is culturally based, and what is hilarious to one culture may merely baffle another.) Specific topics include why we need to laugh, the role joking plays in society, what kind of people become professional comedians, and the ever-changing standards for what kind of jokes go too far. American readers, used to the knee-jerk anti-intellectualism of most U.S. comics, may be surprised and delighted by how comfortably Carr and Greeves, both graduates of Cambridge University, discuss the most high-flown theories of comedy. Then again, many of the best British comics of the last two generations, such as Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and the Monty Python crew, have had strong academic credentials. And never fear, the book is packed with jokes, many of them by professional stand-ups, most of them absolute howlers, that illustrate Carr and Greeves' arguments. Jack Helbig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 700 KB
  • Print Length: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Avery (September 21, 2006)
  • Publication Date: September 21, 2006
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001N89L6C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,880 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is one of the few library books that I managed to finish reading before I had to return it. Not only did I learn a fair bit about humor (did you know that some animals laugh?) but the book appealed to my warped sense of humor. There's a quote at the beginning of each chapter -- "God is a comedian, performing for an audience that is too afaid to laugh. Nietzsche". There's a joke at the bottom of almost every page -- "What do I think of Western civilisation? I think it would be a very good idea.--Mahatma Gandhi". Each chapter ends with a couple of pages of jokes -- "Remember: it takes forty-two muscles to frown and only four to pull the trigger of a decent sniper rifle.--Mitch Henderson". And the text itself can be very funny -- "In Rome there was a special fool market, a sort of boutique adjunct to the main slave market, where you could buy a genuine idiot. These days you can't give them away, but in the first century A.D. they were reassuringly expensive." And, by the way, some of the jokes are definitely NOT G rated.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is both an entertaining and informative treatise on humor, laughter, joking and comedy. Authors Carr and Greeve craftily combine serious research with genuine humor and comedy. The best feature of the book are the hundreds of jokes that are included in the book - one joke at the bottom of each page and a series of jokes to conclude each chapter. There are interesting and insightful discussions about the place of humor in the human psyche, cultural development, and politics, among others. The authors give proper due to appropriate sources, both scholarly and other. At times, however, they segue into their own theories without clearly stating so, while giving the impression that their conlcusions are supported by all that preceded them. The two final chapters were a letdown, with an unnecessarily long review of the place of offensive humor, and a somewhat anticlimatic concluding chapter. The only other criticism I have is that a disproportionate number of Carr's jokes appear among those at the bottom of the pages, presumably objectivelty selected from a very large number of candidates. Seems like a bit of nepotism by the father of these one liners (though they are very funny). Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book for the sheer enjoyment of the humor and the well-covered history and role of comedy.
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Format: Hardcover
Proving that he's much more than just a TV game show host who likes to hook contestants' genitals up to live electrodes, Jimmy Carr (and his co-author Lucy Greeves) produced an extreme rarity: a very, very funny book with a lot of serious ideas on what humor is, why people laugh, what the heck is "wrong" with people who decide to become comedians...

Contains hundreds of sidebar jokes -- of his own; of other comics -- in addition to the well-written, sometimes hysterically amusing main text.

A MUST HAVE for the bookshelf of anyone even remotely employed in the Humor Business, or any lay person who's ever told a joke, laughed at a joke, not laughed at a joke...
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Format: Hardcover
Humor is infective. If you want a brief history of humor, and lots of great examples,this is a good read. It touches on the different humor perceptions of males and females, and explains, as well as can be, why some can tell funny stories and some get lost in the timing and other factors. I think it's a hoot! Good clean fun with a "G" rating. Many familiar names among the contributors. awp
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although this books is packed with jokes--it's value is as a discussion of the social, cultural, and psychological factors that play into joke-telling. He cites numerous studies and experiments as he tries to break down the nature of jokes and why one joke is funny and one is not, how jokes have changed, and why comedy is dominated by men. The only criticism I have is that who the book is intended for seems a little muddled--at times it seems aimed for just the everday person, at other points it sounds geared towards comics or aspiring comics.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Writing about humor has been compared to vivisection--neither subject makes it out alive in the end. Such is not the case with Only Joking. Here you find a heartfelt and simultaneously intellectual look at what makes us laugh, what makes jokes tick, and what our sense of humor says about ourselves, our culture and our dreams. But don't expect tedious essays or endless pedantic discourses--this book is coauthored by a stand-up comic, so naturally the delivery is impeccable. As an added bonus, the book is filled with great jokes on every page--from Carr himself to Carlin to Emo Phillips to the unknown jokesters. Well worth a look.
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