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Get a laugh at your local library

JANET GOODspecial to the daily

Asked by an admirer which of his works of fiction he liked the best, the author answered, “My last income tax return.” Yes, April is not only the month when personal income tax returns are due, but it is also National Humor Month. The above joke comes from a book entitled “10,000 Jokes, Toasts, & Stories,” edited by Lewis and Faye Copeland. In its 1,020 pages, you’ll find humor for every occasion including limericks, puns and tall tales.Favorite comedians’ works can be enjoyed in book or CD form from the library. Check out George Carlin’s “Last Words” or contributions by Jeff Foxworthy, Bob Newhart, Craig Ferguson, Bill Cosby or Jay Leno.Former humor columnist Dave Barry has been cracking up readers for years with such works as “History of the Millennium (So Far),” “Boogers Are My Beat,” and “Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys: A Fairly Short Book.” In this last book in the chapter “Tips for Women,” Dave offers the following insight, “Contrary to what many women believe, it’s fairly easy to develop a long-term, stable, intimate and mutually fulfilling relationship with a guy. Of course this guy has to be a Labrador retriever. With human guys, it’s extremely difficult.”If you have not yet discovered Bill Bryson, stop reading immediately and march directly to the library. His travel stories, such as “In a Sunburned Country, Notes from a Small Island” and especially “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail,” will leave you rolling on the floor. “A Short History of Nearly Everything” is Bryson’s hilarious answer to Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.” The latter work, if you’ve ever tackled it, provides little humor. In fact, reviewer Therese Littleton writes, “These concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to cause vertigo while reading.” Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” on the other hand, is a joy to read. He not only renders such subjects as geology, chemistry, astronomy and physics comprehensible, but also tremendously funny. Take, for example, General Motors engineer, Thomas Midgley, Jr., who not only encouraged adding lead to gasoline to reduce engine knock, but “with an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny … invented chlorofluorocarbons.”Patrick F. McManus is another author who will brighten your day with his stories of life in the out-of-doors. Just the titles of his works bring a smile. Take for example “Into the Twilight, Endlessly Grousing,” “The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw” or “They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?” The Post and Courier of Charleston raves, “Laugh-out-loud funny and sure to resonate with hunters, fishermen or anyone else who might venture off the pavement for a little one-on-one with mother nature.”For the kid in all of us, the library has a sizeable collection of comic strips. If you’ve missed Gary Larson’s Far Side comics since he stopped writing them, dip into “Wiener Dog Art,” “Cows of Our Planet” or “Night of the Crash-Test Dummies.” Other selections include the Simpsons, Dilbert, Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, Fox Trot and Peanuts.If you haven’t taken advantage of your library’s DVD collection, do we have laughs for you! From Buster Keaton’s silent movie “The General” to the Coen Brothers’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and from the Marx Brothers to “Animal House,” your cheeks will ache from smiling.The DVD “Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America” is a six-part series hosted by Billy Crystal “showcasing some of the funniest moments in American entertainment.” You’ll see old favorites like Jonathan Winters and Jack Benny as well as Lily Tomlin, Jerry Seinfeld and Conan O’Brien.There is also a three-hour DVD included in the book “Made You Laugh!” by Joe Garner. The book’s subtitle boasts, “The funniest moments in radio, television, stand-up and movie comedy.” Here’s a source for more movies to chuckle through. When you’ve finished your taxes and need some comic relief, visit your local library. We serve up the laughs.


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