Funny: The Book by David Misch, while funny, takes a look at what is comedy, why comedy and anything else you can think of related to comedy.
He looks at the origins of comedy and relates it to present day comedy. Has it changed or are we just reworking the same jokes and stories from hundreds of years ago? This isn’t a boring history class though and sprinkled amongst that information are small jokes and puns lightening up what could be boring.
David Misch also takes movies, tv shows and other current comic venues and shows how they work and why they work. There is actually a formula for comedy but not everyone uses it!
There are 29 chapters with headings ranging from The History of Ha!: Trickster to Evolution is Irritating: Sitcoms. Chapter 14 is the shortest because There Is No Chapter 14. None of the chapters are many pages and each give a view of some sort about comedy or comics.
At the end of the book are things like an index and a mediagraphy. Things like these make this a fantastic reference book.
You might want to have access to the Internet while reading this book. There are lots of links that are referenced to illustrate points. The clips are online. There is a section in the back of the book which lists all of them and where they can be found but it might be nice to watch them while in the correct part of the book.
I was leery about reading this book. While I love a good romantic comedy, film or book, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read about what makes comedy. The first chapter started like a history book but with quirks to make it interesting. So, as I was reading and learning about Greek tragedies, I was also entertained. The entire book was like that. There is plenty of information to learn but it’s presented in a humorous way. What a novel idea!
So, I found myself actually liking this book. While it would make a terrific text book for someone studying theater, it also makes an interesting book if you’re interested in history or comedy. How does comedy evolve and why laugh? Get questions and they’re answered in Funny: The Book.
This book does concentrate on the US and not other countries, though other countries are mentioned. Therefore, while it works for US readers/researchers, it may not be relevant to those in other countries, except maybe Canada.
Funny: The Book is an entertaining look at the art of comedy, from its historical roots to the latest scientific findings, with diversions into the worlds of movies (Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers), television (The Office), prose (Woody Allen, Robert Benchley), theater (The Front Page), jokes and stand-up comedy (Richard Pryor, Steve Martin), as well as personal reminiscences from the author's experiences on such TV programs as Mork and Mindy. With allusions to the not-always-funny Carl Jung, George Orwell, and Arthur Koestler, Funny: The Book explores the evolution, theories, principles, and practice of comedy, as well as the psychological, philosophical, and even theological underpinnings of humor, coming to the conclusion that (Spoiler Alert!) Comedy is God.