Judging from the listings on the major online bookstores, the whole world is in love with jokes, and books of jokes to such an extent, well, almost as much as it loves Paris Hilton.
But what jokes exactly? We did a random search on several sites and came up with some interesting results.
Using the keyword “jokes”, it was an eye-opener when a single site found 54540 books involving jokes listed in its database. This was kind of strange in a way.
When last did you check out a friend’s book shelf at their place? We are prepared to bet that books of jokes did not feature much, if at all. Most likely there were relationship books, car manuals, sports books, glossy novels, a gift books, unopened textbooks.
Perhaps there was a ragged cartoon book at the end of the shelf and one in the bathroom.
So what are all these listed joke books exactly?
At the bottom of the price range ($1) we found Spongebob, Rugrats, Dumb and Dumber Garfield and hundreds in the 101 Jokes series: 101 Vacation Jokes, 101 Telephone Jokes, 101 Pet Jokes – you get the picture. Some jovial publisher obviously figured out also that the entire world loves a good joke or more than a hundred preferably.
It is interesting too that so many of the books of jokes in this price range are aimed at kids. Books containing “Children’s good clean jokes” is a recurring theme here.
At the $15 level the joke books are more adult (O’Brien and Fitzgerald Walk into a Bar: The World’s Best Irish Jokes) and edgy (the “Extremely Gross Jokes” series).
And here’s a joke for you. Our search threw up “The Joke” by Milan Kundera. Funny huh?
Then there is the fabulously interesting title “The Jokes of Sigmund Freud: A Study in Humor and Jewish Identity” by Elliot Oring. Not a joke book to take to the pub perhaps but you can feel the laughter well up even so.
Then I came across the title “I Give you Texas! 500 Jokes of the Lone Star State”. I have always had a yearning to live in Texas although I know very little about it. I reckon Texan jokes should tell me all I need to know. So I got sidetracked and ordered the book.
Of course there is a dark side to the joke industry – the academics who Take It All Very Seriously. Consider the title “Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An Analysis of Sexual Humor”. This kind of title should not really be thrown out by a search for jokes. It’s not fair and it’s not funny.
At the top of the price range ($100 and more) there were interesting discoveries, such as an album of 50 saucy not blue postcards from World War II. My grandpa had some of those.
Published in Poland in 1931 was “I Laugh at You”, in Yiddish, by Joseph Tunkel. Mr Tunkel left Poland in 1939 when the laughter stopped.
For $300 you can have David Henry Thoreau’s “Cape Cod” in two volumes, reportedly Thoreau’s sunniest, happiest book. It bubbles over with jokes, puns, tall tales, and genial good humor, the bookseller says.
If you are prepared to stump up $77 500 dollars for a laugh, you can have the complete autograph manuscript of Chapter 23 of “A Tramp Abroad” by Mark Twain. It was the most expensive that came up under the search term “jokes” on Abebooks.
The bookseller supplies a painstaking description of the item (revisions, repairs, smudging, fingerprinting and all) and says: “The subject of the chapter is, in large part, reminiscence from Twain’s days as a printer’s apprentice. Nicodemus Dodge, a seeming yokel from out of town, is hired at the printer’s shop where the young Sam Clemens is working. The locals hope to make Nicodemus the butt of their jokes only to find (as Twain notes in a phrase that was ultimately deleted), that they ‘had fished for a sardine and caught a whale’ “. Children love jokes, Deez Nuts Jokes, especially Knock Knock jokes and once they find one they like, they tell it all the time.