Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lighted, lighted, laughing in tune

Walking aimlessly around the Atlanta airport yesterday I realized the books on hand would be insufficient to keep from going crazy on the flight home. I considered picking up Stephen King's short and somewhat controversial Colorado Kid. Fortunately, my eyes fell upon The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman. Last fall, I chuckled my way through this chat with Hodgman on the Post website. Suffice it to say, if you giggled in that chat you will guffaw while reading the book.

I for one had to suppress my laughter lest I overly concern Gene, the person sitting next to me on the plane. I was less considerate of my fellow Popeye's patrons back at the airport.

I own very little in the way of humor books, at least if humorous novels don't count. I have a few PJ O'Rourke's, a collection of humorous essays by Christopher Buckley and the Modern Drunkard. Funny writing is no easy thing and a hundred plus pages of laughter is even more challenging. Aside from saying "he's funny," its not easy to pinpoint why this book works.

The book is a fake almanac so has bizarre sections like 700 hobo names, submarine crew slang and other items. The diversity helps, but so does the repetition of certain jokes. The mock seriousness helps as do the little cultural references that make the reader feel smart. Making people feel smart makes them like you.

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