This is both a book containing numerous jokes, and one that attempts to situate such jokes within explanatory contexts. Which is to say that it is a book about jokes, as well as a book of jokes, with an abundance of jokes taking up rather more space than the contextual information. Among topics touched upon are the psychology of our responses to jokes; the major sources of jokes (for example, the body; sex and the relations between male and female; religion and sport); the curious structure of jokes (their reliance on the narrative or the ‘set-up’, as well as on the clinching punchline); and the way they both defy conventional logic and simultaneously supply a compelling logic of their own. Such topics have been thoroughly researched, which means that they are treated in an informed and illuminating way; but although the research ranges widely the topics are handled with a light touch. What matters is the way in which the brief commentaries on jokes are illustrated – amply --by the jokes themselves Above all, the main purpose remains constant -- to provide entertainment and provoke genuine laughter.
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