Sunday, January 3, 2010

Asimov Laughs Again

Asimov Laughs Again: More than 700 Favorite Jokes, Limericks, and Anecdotes
© 1992 Isaac Asimov
357 pages

A German was giving an impassioned speech at the United Nations and the interpreter was silent.
“What’s he saying?” someone whispered to the interpreter.
“I don’t know yet,” said the interpreter. “I’m waiting for the verb.”   - p. 166

Back in 2008 I enjoyed Isaac Asimov’s Treasury of Humor, a collection of some six hundred jokes, puns, and riddles, complemented by Asimov’s comments on them and humor in general. Asimov penned a sequel to the book with Asimov Laughs Again, although with this work he insisted on forgoing the traditional “chapter” format and instead presents the book as one long conversation, punctuated only by joke numbers. This format works tolerably well, although it does mean readers who are used to using chapter breaks as stopping points will be at a disadvantage.

This is not a joke book in the spirit of Asimov’s Treasury of Humor. Although there are plenty of jokes here, his humorous anecdotes are more numerous and at times carry the book. While Treasury of Humor’s main appeal was as a joke book, Laughs Again will appeal more to those who enjoy Isaac Asimov’s personality.  Asimov also includes many of his original limericks, all bawdy. Although some of the anecdotes were more benignly entertaining than amusing, the book as a whole was funny and indeed mirth-inducing at a couple of points. If you can find it, it’s worth thumbing through at the very least.

Socrates was wandering about an Athenian bazaar, closely studying all the rich and flashy items that were for sale there.
A friend, well aware of Socrates’ abstemious life-style, said to him in wonder, “Why is it, O Socrates, that you are so interested in this merchandise?”
“Because,” said Socrates, “I am stuck dumb with amazement to see what a wide variety of things there are that I don’t need and can do without.” - p. 299

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