1-3 | Stop Me if You've Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes

Book Review

Stop Me if You've Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes

Jim Holt
New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 2008. Photographs, illustrations, index. 160pp. $15.95 cloth. ISBN: 9780393066739

by Scott G. Eberle

First Paragraph:

But seriously, folks . . .
Stop Me if You've Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes has broken into the top five hundred in Amazon's sales ranking. It deserves this popularity. Jim Holt is an engaging writer whose thoughtful reviews of works in science and philosophy appear in The New Yorker and the New York Times. For the past five years, he has also been writing the smart and smartalecky "Egghead" column for the online magazine Slate. His latest book is more in that vein; the book is engaging, admirable for its serious ambitions to explain, and it is funny—fittingly so—often striking a tone of mock outrage over the dubious material he plainly revels in. (Authors who study humor are often strangely humorless.) Holt has an ear for the funniest enduring jokes. Even the index to this book, compiled by The Atlantic's Benjamin Healy, is funny. The book is timely, too. We sorely need a serious and probing treatment of jokes.