Book Review: The Importance of Being Funny by Al Gini

Book Review: The Importance of Being Funny by Al Gini

Title: The Importance of Being Funny: Why We Need More Jokes in Our Lives
Author: Al Gini
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Hardcover: 168 pages
Source: ALA Annual 2017
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

When E. B. White said “analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog; few people are interested and the frog dies,” he hadn’t seen Al Gini’s hilarious, incisive, and informative take on jokes, joke-telling, and the jokers who tell jokes. For Gini, humor is more than just foolish fun: it serves as a safety valve for dealing with reality that gives us the courage to endure that which we cannot understand or avoid. Not everyone tells jokes. Not everyone gets a joke, even a good one. But, Gini argues, joke-telling can act as both a sword and a shield to defend us from reality. As the late, great stand-up comic Joan Rivers put it: ‘If you can laugh at it, you can live with it!’ This book is for anyone who enjoys a good laugh, but also wants to know why.

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*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at ALA Annual 2017. This is an honest review.*

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

In The Importance of Being Funny, Al Gini talks about the importance of humor and why we might have developed it as a species, while also including some of his favorite jokes. I enjoyed the easy, down-to-earth nature of the writing style; while Gini talks about high concepts, it’s at a very easy, natural level. He basically covers what comedy is, the ethics of telling jokes (as we all know, some jokes can be racist, misogynist, etc.), and what happens to a person when they’re told a joke or are telling a joke.

This book meant to be a description of what’s funny or how to be funny, but instead is a philosophical work on why humor is important. Some of it is repetitive, but it’s a quick read and I enjoyed learning a little more about humor. I especially appreciated the included jokes that are used as examples to illustrate points. If you’re at all interested in the importance of humor in human nature, or learning a little more about how humor works and what purpose it serves, then I would definitely recommend this book. It’s approachable, contains good jokes, and has good information.

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