“Funny: The Book” is not only more fun than a barrel of (non-deadly-virus-carrying) monkeys, it’s also a riveting repository of fun facts and interesting info about classic comedy. For those who prefer to pursue (though not necessarily catch) further fun facts and increasingly interesting info (as well as videos referenced in the book but not on the BOOK LINKS page), the subsequent sites are really recommended…
(Major thanks to Ilan Ben-Meir for research)
[Got or know of a cool comedy site? Tell me about it.]
CHAPTER 1: THE HISTORY OF HA! (TRICKSTER)
- CARL JUNG’S TRICKSTER ARCHETYPE AND TRICKSTER DEITIES by Timothy Sexton.
- A CHARLIE CHAPLIN tribute site.
- THE FAUX CHARLOT presents “CHAPLIN IMPERSONATORS THROUGH HISTORY”.
- The American Film Institute’s 100 GREATEST COMEDIES OF ALL TIME (pdf).
CHAPTER 3: LEONARD, ADOLPH, HERBERT AND JULIUS (THE MARX BROTHERS)
- A comprehensive site on THE MARX BROTHERS.
CHAPTER 4: MORE HISTORY OF HA! (THE ANCIENT WORLD)
- André Dollinger’s got a good site on ANCIENT EGYPTIAN THEATER; it includes a fine reference to vagina-baring, 4600 years before “2 Broke Girls” beat the dead horse of vagina references with a live horse watching.
- Beatrice K. Otto looks at THE COURT JESTER through history. (Remember Danny Kaye’s song, “The Maladjusted Jester”?: “An unemployed jester is nobody’s fool.”)
CHAPTER 5: LIVE FROM GIGGLES (STAND-UP)
- Patrick Bromley’s HISTORY OF STAND-UP COMEDY.
- Time Magazine’s HISTORY OF STAND-UP COMEDY WITH NARRATION AND PRETTY PICTURES.
- Dead Frog’s STAND-UP COMEDY DATABASE.
CHAPTER 6: “THAT NIGGER’S CRAZY!” (RICHARD PRYOR)
CHAPTER 7: EVEN MORE HISTORY OF HA! (ARISTOTLE TO RESTORATION)
- COMEDY IN ANCIENT GREECE, from Prof. Mark Damen of Utah State University.
- Lots and lots about COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE from Judith Chaffee.
- From Jean Renoir’s “The Golden Coach”, a reenactment of a commedia dell’arte performance, in which the characters Harlequin (another incarnation of Trickster) and Columbine present a Renaissance version of the Marx Brothers’ mirror routine from “Duck Soup” (BOOK LINKS). Harlequin also demonstrates use of the battochio (slap stick).
- Some readers think that my reference to Japan’s Kanamara Matsuri festival (or, as I call it, Penispalooza) is a joke; you can read about it here and see images from it here.
CHAPTER 8: THEATUH – “THE FRONT PAGE”
- Robert Schmuhl’s terrific site on “THE FRONT PAGE”.
CHAPTER 9: NIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE (PROSE)
- Yvonne Tu’s short bio of DOROTHY PARKER.
- David Pietrusza’s tribute to ROBERT BENCHLEY; and Richard Corliss’s fine Benchley piece in Time.
- S.J. PERELMAN’s bio on Wikipedia (which I never use).
- The Daily Beast’s Morris Dickstein explains HOW “CATCH-22” CHANGED AMERICA.
CHAPTER 10: INVISIBLE RABBITS AND FRESH FRUIT (“HARVEY” / “A THOUSAND CLOWNS”)
- The original New York Times reviews of the Broadway productions of “Harvey” and “A Thousand Clowns” are behind the Times’ pay-wall (Subscribe! Keep newspapers alive!) but the movie reviews aren’t: “HARVEY” / “A THOUSAND CLOWNS”.
- Alan Waldman’s tribute to HERB GARDNER.
- A fun site on “Harvey”’s author MARY CHASE, courtesy of Tim (no relation?) Chase.
CHAPTER 11: MORE EVEN MORE HISTORY OF HA! (MUSIC HALLS TO VAUDEVILLE)
- From John Kenrick’s “Musicals 101”, A HISTORY OF VAUDEVILLE.
- VAUDEVILLE!: An extensive site from Rick Easton of the American Studies department at the University of Virginia, with lots of audio and video.
- Another True Fact that some people who read the book doubt is the existence of the immortal Le Pétomane; here’s his Wikipedia page.
CHAPTER 12: THE JEWISH QUESTION
- Lawrence J. Epstein’s “THE HAUNTED SMILE: THE STORY OF JEWISH COMEDIANS IN AMERICA” isn’t in the book’s Mediagraphy because it wasn’t
stolen from borrowed fromused as inspiration. It’s a dark but fascinating study of the relationship of Jewish comics and comedy to the American experience.
On a lighter note…
CHAPTER 13: THE IMMORTAL ALLAN STEWART KONIGSBERG (WOODY ALLEN)
- Shockingly, there is no well-done tribute site for one of the greatest comic geniuses of the 20th (and 21st?) century, and his own site is pretty bare-bones: WOODY ALLEN.
CHAPTER 15: WHY WE LAUGH… OR DO WE? (THE EVOLUTION OF HA!)
- A majorly serious paper on the EVOLUTION OF LAUGHTER by Marina Davila Ross, Michael J. Owren and Elke Zimmermann.
- Pithy BBC summary of the above, with bonus giggling gorilla: TICKLED APES YIELD LAUGHTER CLUE.
- And for all you perverts who get excited by VIDEO OF RATS BEING TICKLED, go crazy.
CHAPTER 16: THAT WACKY EXISTENTIALISM (STEVE MARTIN)
CHAPTER 17: ME & MY DOPAMINE (THE SCIENCE OF HA!)
- Fun video on THE NEUROSCIENCE OF LAUGHTER.
- Scientific American article about the neurobiology of humor: JOKES, ICE WATER, AND MAGNETISM.
- An article on non-humorous reasons for laughter from the University of Chicago:
HUMOR ISN’T THE ONLY TRIGGER OF HUMAN LAUGHTER.
- Info on Laughing Clubs from LAUGHTER YOGA INTERNATIONAL.
- May your walks be ever silly, your cheese ever out of stock, and your parrots ever dead: MONTY PYTHON.
CHAPTER 18: BETTY LOU ZOMBAX (“MORK AND MINDY”)
- Sitcoms Online’s “MORK AND MINDY” PAGE
CHAPTER 19: ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION (THE THEORIES OF HA!)
- Paul Budnik’s short INTRODUCTION TO LOGIC. (Spoiler alert – “One can use a truth table to evaluate each subexpression starting with those at the root of the expression tree”!)
- THE RULE OF 3 gets its own Wikipedia page.
- Screenwriter Craig Mazin’s blog, “The Artful Writer”, boils comedy down to 15 rules, inspired by Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker (“Airplane!”), and possibly copyrighted by David Zucker but it’s hard to tell so please David don’t sue: THE ARTFUL WRITER – ZAZ PART II: THE RULES
- For those who don’t believe that comedy is a precise and exacting science, check out Jerry Seinfeld describing the two-year process behind constructing a Pop-Tart joke.
- Gilbert Gottfried’s version of “The Aristocrats”; WARNING: Extremely, unbelievably, ginormously offensive language.
CHAPTER 21: LOVE AND THEFT (PLAGIARISM)
- Kevin L. Morgan has a historical and cultural survey of PLAGIARISM at, naturally, “Ministry: The International Journal for Pastors”, evidently the front line of the intellectual property rights wars.
- The book has a reference to how a bit I used in the adult animated series “DUCKMAN” showed up 16 years later in a FedEx commercial. Compare, contrast, discuss among yourselves: plumbing / auto repair.
(If you’re interested in the legal issues – and there’s no reason you should be – check out copyright lawyer Joe Escalante’s discussion with me on his show “Barely Legal”.)
CHAPTER 22: SAYING IT WORSE (THE PHILOSOPHY OF HA!)
- The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry on HUMOR, by Aaron Smuts of the Dept. of Philosophy, Rhode Island College.
- PRAGMATICS HUMOUR, a dissertation by Ken Willis (although how can you expect to earn a doctorate when you misspell “humor”?).
- Jim Carrey’s exit from a mechanical rhino, from “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls”.
CHAPTER 23: WHEN DID YOU BREAK YOUR COLLARBONE? (BUSTER KEATON)
- THE DAMFINOS: THE INTERNATIONAL BUSTER KEATON SOCIETY
- Keaton takes flight in “Neighbors”.
- Chaplin’s dancing dinner rolls, from “The Gold Rush”.
- Keaton to the rescue, athletically, in “College”.
- Multiple Busters in “The Playhouse”.
- The brides chase in “Seven Chances”; and the tributes : “The Bachelor”, “What’s Up Doc”, “Wall-E”.
- Tributes to the house drop in “Steamboat Bill Jr.”: the original, Jackie Chan, “Weird Al” Yankovic, “Jackass”, “The Simpsons”.
- Man, could that guy end movies: “Sherlock Jr.”, “Steamboat Bill Jr.”, “College”.
- A fun piece of Keaton trivia: During the years alcoholism left him as a gag-man at MGM, Buster worked with the Marx Brothers. Certain Marx gags of the time are clearly Keatonesque – it’s been often remarked that the tearing-the-train-apart-for-wood bit at the end of “Go West” steals from “The General”. But it’s less noted that one of cinema’s greatest comic sequences, the “Stateroom Scene” from “A Night At The Opera” bears a striking resemblence to this scene from “The Cameraman”.
- And if there’s any doubt Keaton’s still relevant, he recently had a cameo on “Girls”.
CHAPTER 24: KOSMIK KOMEDY (THE PURPOSE OF HA!)
- Laurel & Hardy in their Oscar-winning short “The Music Box”.
- Billed as “The laugh riot of two continents!” for its first American production, almost half the audience left at intermission; the complete text of “WAITING FOR GODOT”.
CHAPTER 25: SUFFERING IS FUNNY (“THE OFFICE”)
CHAPTER 26: EVOLUTION IS IRRITATING (SITCOMS)
- Jennifer Flaten’s short HISTORY OF SITCOMS.
CHAPTER 27: AMERICA THE HILARIOUS
- Emerson College’s AMERICAN COMEDY ARCHIVES.
CHAPTER 28: KOSMIK KOMEDY 2 (THE THEOLOGY OF HA!)
- Cheryl Taylor’s THEOLOGY OF HUMOR.
CHAPTER 29: “THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!”
FREE ADDITIONAL LINKS (AT NO EXTRA CHARGE!)
- One of the top sites covering the comedy world: THE NERDIST.
And two of the top sites for short original web-comedy: