Jim Holt Stop Me If You've Heard This: --> reviewed by Christie Davies -->

According to the press release from the publisher of Stop Me If You’ve Heard This, “there has never been a scholarly understanding of the perplexing and pleasing art” of telling jokes. In fact there have been many, several of them far better than this one. The publisher calls it “an unfailingly brilliant analysis of just what makes them so funny (or not).” Brilliant it ain’t.

You can not easily tell whether a joke is funny just from a text; too much depends on the narrative and theatrical skills of the teller. Jokes are an oral phenomenon and are composed by accretion as they spread by word of mouth. Often they are never written down, perhaps because of fear of censorship...


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