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Television

Seinfeld Was Wrong About Keith Hernandez's Spit-Shot, Possibly

It seems the entire Phillies team were just the patsies in Seinfeld's Magic Loogie episode. Let me demonstrate.

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Books

Patrick Madden's 'Disparates' Makes Sense in These Crazy Times

There's no social distancing with Patrick Madden's hilarious Disparates. While reading these essays, you'll feel like he's in the room with you.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Stressed About COVID-19? Seek the Tao of Coen

"Son, you got a panty on your head." As purveyors of gallows humor, filmmakers the Coen Brothers teach us how to laugh at things that aren't funny -- but kinda are.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

I Would Like to See My Doctor: Social Distancing and Telemedicine

My first COVID-19-era "telehealth" video call had me looking up my doctor's nose. Who could blame him for turning his camera off?

Film

Be Kind. Please Rewind: An Ode to the VCR

Like Netflix, the VCR diluted and transformed the film itself.

Books

John Hodgman Is Flying High in Memoir, 'Medallion Status'

TV star/writer/podcast host -- just don't call him a standup comic -- John Hodgman tackles class aspiration and other inconveniences in his memoir, Medallion Status.

Books

Terry Eagleton's 'Humour' Is Neither Too Prude Nor Too Erudite

Terry Eagleton's Humor wisely makes no argument beyond a survey of all the ways one can debunk some portion of all preceding theories of humor.

Books

Can Yiddish Humor Topple the Tower of Babel?

Devorah Baum's The Jewish Joke reminds us of a distinct commonality.

Culture

A Cappella Punk: What's Happening to Alternative Comedy in the US?

The DIY strategies and indie allegiances of recent alternative comedians reveal the spirit of punk to be alive and kicking beyond the music world.

Reviews

Getting Lost in Thought with David Sedaris

Calypso uses a wandering style of storytelling to conjure a sense of Sedaris traveling through his own thoughts, getting lost on particular charming tangents before coming back to what he ultimately wants you to take away.

Reviews

'Space Opera': A Galactic-scale Eurovision-style Life or Death Singing Contest

In Catherynne M. Valente's Space Opera, the Meaning of Life has a beat and, depending on your alien physiology, you might be able to dance to it.

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What Happened to British Culture When Alternative Comedy Went from Posh to Punk?

If Alexei Sayle and Rik Mayall represented the Pistols/Clash in-your-face assault and battery side of British punk comedy, Ben Elton was its Elvis Costello, complete with geeky wide-rimmed glasses.

Books

Jennifer Caloyeras Gets Unruly In Her New Short Story Collection

Intimacy with animals, babysitting plastic dolls, and running into your dad at a furry cuddle party are just a few of the details in this off-the-chain collection of stories, Unruly Creatures.

Culture

Is Dave Chappelle's Humor Too Out of Touch for a Comeback?

In light of movements like Black Lives Matter and Me Too, Dave Chappelle's 2000 film, Killin' Them Softly may be even more relevant today. But how's his humor holding up?

Culture

Haven't You Learned How to Take a Joke? The Comedy-on-Campus Debates

The college comedy deficit means that we are neither taught how to take a joke nor how to interpret one.

Books

Paul Goldberg's 'The Château' Is a Farcical Familial Fable for the Trump Era

The father and son relationship, the wonky, beating heart of The Château, feels so well-worn and lived-in that its volatile pushes-and-pulls contain some genuinely touching moments.

Books

'Radio Free Vermont' Showcases the Political Power of Ordinary People

Bill McKibben's novel asks readers to value resistance movements that embrace humor, creativity, and civility while inspiring activism as part of our everyday lives.

Books

'Eastman Was Here' Is Curious, Assured and Compelling

There's a ghostly suggestion of Philip Roth's writing voice in Portnoy's Complaint in this novel; a relatively calm voice, this time in the third person, documenting the madness.

Books

John Hodgman's 'Vacationland' Is Comfortably Fearless

With Vacationland John Hodgman moves away from comedy and tries a new approach: humble reality.

Books

The Good, the Positive and the Funny in Scott C.'s Art

No matter his subject matter, Scott C.'s confident cheerfulness is obvious and infectious.

Television

Mustaches Run Amok Throughout Mickey Spillane’s 'The New Mike Hammer: The Series'

WARNING: This review may disturb, nay, trigger recollections for Gen X'ers that grew up watching TV with adults in the '80s.

Books

Shelter from the Norm: Umbrellas Aren’t Always What They Seem in ‘Brolliology’

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

Books

John Hodgman's 'Vacationland' Is Worth the Trip

Hodgman makes no secret that the relatively inconsequential, real-life stories of an artistically and financially successful white middle-aged man are hardly what the world needs right now. But his humor sure helps in these times.

Books

'The Deep Whatsis ' Offers a Scathing Yet Funny Critique of Corporate Culture

Peter Mattei's 2013 novel echoes Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, AMC's Mad Men, Ayn Rand's characters, and Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho, albeit without the violence.

Books

On the Cathartic POW!er of Appropriating Trumpisms

The Unquotable Trump is a devious, dark, disturbing, brilliant delight that will prove the standard bearer for texts from the resistance.

Television

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

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The Show About Nothing Might Have Been About the Everlasting

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code feels like a Johnny-the-Baptist-come-lately of preexisting Seinfeld scripture.

Culture

Why, After All These Years, Are We Still Speaking in Sein Language?

Just like with hip-hop, Seinfeld has broadened our collective slang and everyday rhetorical wit.

Television

One Nation, Divided by Humor

We may be one nation in America, but today we appear to be living on different planets.

Books

'Til Death Do You Part: And Other Thoughts About Family

Annabelle Gurwitch's humorous memoir, Wherever You Go, There They Are, captures how one is forever in the thralls of the family -- no matter the form that family takes.

Politics

Can We Say the F Word Yet? On Fascism and Humor

In light of the decrees and executive orders signed thus far by Donald Trump, we might reasonably ask: is fascism relevant to America's current political state?

Books

Dave Barry Does the Unimaginable in an Exploration of the Sunshine State

Tired of fielding questions about what's the matter with Florida, a treasured American humorist takes matters into his own hands and finds out for himself.

Politics

Believe Me! Trumpism and the Messianic Impulse

Mario Cuomo once said that candidates campaign in poetry then govern in prose; Trump’s utterances, however, might better be characterized as speaking in tongues.

Science

Nutty Professors? The Case for Scientist-Humorists in the Culture Wars

It's time for the personalities of the science community to emerge from their labs and to get into the ring.

Politics

Who's Better Than Mark Twain at Bible-bashing?

Sounding more like Christopher Hitchens than a lapsed Presbyterian from the 19th century, Mark Twain rips apart Testaments Old and New.

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