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The 50 Funniest American Writers: According to Andy Borowitz

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  375 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Ever wondered who makes a very funny person laugh? Wonder no more. Brought together in this Library of America collection are America’s fifty funniest writers—according to acclaimed writer and comedian Andy Borowitz. Reaching back to Mark Twain and forward to contemporary masters such as David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Roy Blount Jr., Ian Frazier, Bernie Mac, Wanda Sykes, and ...more
Hardcover, 461 pages
Published October 13th 2011 by Library of America
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Declaring these writers the “funniest” is a bit of stretch. Technical skill is the main feature of this anthology: these writers know the tricks of the humor trade and they ply them well. 50 people reading these selections on a subway car would not experience a widespread outbreak of laughter; but a clever turn of phrase, a metaphoric counterpoint, or carefully chose word will likely cause a few chuckles. Highlights are where you might expect them: Lenny Bruce exposing the hypocrisy of popular t ...more
I'm generally fairly scattershot when it comes to the manner in which I approach a typical anthology: I'll thumb through, choose selections at reckless random, set it aside for months, perhaps pick it up later, and likely completely forget about the 44% I never managed to get to. Dust ultimately collects, as dust is wont to do.

I've long been deeply amused by damn near EVERYTHING that Mr. Borowitz has to say (whether it be in The New Yorker, via Twitter, or on his masterfully produced satirical w
Surprisingly excellent. Anthologies of this sort rarely live up to their claims, but the selections here are a great representation of American humor from the last 100 years (plus the requisite piece from Twain).
This was a really good way to get the mind to unwind. I would say that this writing is a mix of humor and funny, as there were at least several that were more humorous than funny. For funny, I am so glad for the entry by Bernie Mac because he made me laugh out loud more than anyone in this book.

I thought the entries made in chronological order were an interesting way to organize the book and ended up taking us on a little historical journey through American humor. It is interesting how somethin
I enjoyed it, but many of the stories required context which the book did not provide. I appreciate the gesture, the assumption that I would be familiar with every author, their history, and the time period and socio-cultural environment that existed at the time the various articles were written, however the reality was multiple trips to wikipedia in order to get the history and perspective of the many very funny authors included in Borowitz's book. The wikipedia research is really important if ...more
This seemed more like a historical anthology of humour writers than a collection of actual humour. While these may possibly be some of the funniest American writers, if these were their funniest efforts then I can only say I do not share a sense of humour with Andy Borowitz. Some stories were amusing but it was very hit-and-miss, and not a single one got a real laugh out loud. So, perhaps interesting as a historical collection, but if you just want a good laugh I'd look elsewhere.
Feb 09, 2014 Alissa added it
brilliant and verve- y compendium of Borowitz's choices.

delighted -amused -insight and wisedom into the fun and absurd
side of humanity-- learned a lot - laughed like a fool - gained
that light fun whimsical appreciation for those who can nail a 'situation' \
rife with understanding of people and that illuminating analysis
of what goes on -- smart book - loved it - re-read it on many occasions --------

Hunter Thomposn's Kentucky Derby - priceless

Tome Wolf's Secret Vice - rich and social commentary
The only reason I picked up this book was because Andy Borowitz compiled the stories. Overall, I was mixed on the stories - some were funny, the others were not my cup of tea. I ended up skipping a couple stories or I would never have finished. it was a wide variety of humor as well. I wouldn't recommend this for most people, unless you are really into comedy.

I give it 2.5 stars.
Honestly, I thought it would be funnier. I follow Andy Borowitz on Twitter...his many tweets per day are worth at least a couple of guffaws. WIth this book he's basically giving a history of American humor writers starting with Mark Twain. Many selections are quite good, but some are just boring. I found myself skimming a lot of the middle section.
From the usual suspects - Dorothy Parker, Woody Allen, S.J. Perelman - to the out-of-the-box choices - John Hughes, Donald Barthelme, Bernie Mac - this is an inventive and masterfully curated collection. I bought copies for everyone on my Christmas list.
Abby Aldrich
Nobody new to me in here. I didn't realize that was what I was looking for so that's probably why I wasn't very excited about it.
Jack Goodstein
Mixed bag of humor running from parody and satire to observational humor--49 of which are from the 20th century and into the 21st.
The Goon
I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. I found the selections of the anthology to be pretty random. Furthermore, very few of the writing selected was actually funny, which was confusing since the title says it’s got writing from “The 50 Funniest American Writers.”
I guess, thinking about it, the title doesn’t say that it’s the funniest writing of the funniest American writers, but just pieces that happen to have been written by those funny writers.
Just because you are a funny writer does not mea
Count on the Borowitz name like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Every daily dose of satire in the Borowitz Report unfailingly delivers.

That kind of reliability makes the fantastic flop, “The 50 Funniest American Writers According to Andy Borowitz” all the more puzzling.

He may, in fact, have identified the top 50 writers. He did not, however, pick the 50 funniest stories. He barely picked five stories I found funny at all.

Others suggest that the oldest stories need context for the contemp
It's a tough crowd here rating this book so lowly, but that only goes to prove the subjectivity of humor. And it's not a proposition of like it or feel neutral: people who don't find something funny often react with outright hostility. Look at the scores for any book on this site that has been touted as highly funny. They're never high, and the scores are all over the map.

Borowitz takes on a tough task, narrowing a huge field of humorists to 50, and then finding representative work when he's und
This was a Christmas gift from my sister, and I'm grateful because I don't think I would have picked it up, left to my own devices. There's a lot of golden treasure here, including Garrison Keillor's "The Tip-Top Club", whose appearance in The Atlantic Monthly, sometime in 1981, was the first time I'd ever heard of him.

On one day I hit upon Susan Orlean, Calvin Trillin, Molly Ivins, a piece from The Onion, and Dave Barry (whom I sometimes find funny, sometimes not), and laughed for about a half
Kevin Brown
I'm probably being a bit generous with my rating, as I didn't find most of this book funny. It got much better once it got to contemporary writers, such as David Sedaris, Molly Ivins, Ian Frazier, and David Rakoff. When one of the funniest pieces is from The Onion (which is funny, certainly, but it shouldn't be near the high point of the book), you know you're in trouble. I did enjoy reading Larry Wilmore, though, the only writer I found funny whom I had never read before.
Frances Levy
The humor in some of the chronologically older pieces was totally lost on me. But I liked almost all the selections from the late 1920s forward. I agree with other reviewers: I have read much funnier pieces by some of the writers who are represented in this anthology. And I was disappointed by the small number of women writers selected for this volume.

One more comment: although I know there isn't any way Andy Borowitz could have selected everyone's favorite for the limited list of 50, I can't fa
The 50 Funniest American Writers: According to Andy Borowitz but not to Gemma Shazlin.

I liked that the stories were in chronological order and occasionally provided some historical insight, but outside of a few gems, I was never really amused.

A lot of heavy satire and absurdity, with quality varying throughout. Satire has always been a bit too dry and often heavy-handed for me to dub hilarious, and I enjoy absurd humor more when it's not in essay form.

'Funny' is an extremely subjective term,
Andy Borowitz takes on a hopeless task with this comic writing anthology. Still, while there's little here that will have you rolling in the aisles, there's enough to make you chuckle and (most importantly) want to follow up and read more by certain authors. Editor Borowitz leans heavily towards writers associated with "The New Yorker," (his current employer), but that may simply be the result of that magazine's well-deserved reputation of selecting the best humor writers. Many of the newer writ ...more
James Swenson
There are some great essays in this collection; a nice mix of old and new, from Mark Twain to Larry Wilmore. A couple of my old favorites are here, including "Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father" by Ian Frazier and "The Ransom of Red Chief" by O. Henry. A couple of excellent things were new to me; particularly "A Presidential Candidate" by Mark Twain.

Some things were included that I didn't care for, too, but I guess that's unavoidable.
Jennie Morton
This anthology is a Whitman's Sampler of comedic writing. Some hits, some missess, all enough of a taste to getting an idea of the author's voice. Interesting to see the range of what falls under humor.

I wish, however, there had been some context for each piece. It's not always obvious if the writing was merely humorous, fictional or memoir, satire, sarcasm, or just blatantly outlandish. Not that each joke needs to be revealed beforehand, but a sentence or two about the historical atmosphere or
CJ Bowen
Probably unavoidable for an edited collection, but this book is a thoroughly mixed bag. Standouts include O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief", James Thurber's "More Alarms at Night" (although not Thurber's funniest), Dorothy Parker's "The Waltz", Peter de Vries' "The House of Mirth", Tom Wolfe's "The Secret Vice", Jean Shepherd's "The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message", Charles Portis' "Your Action Line", John Hughes' "Vacation '58", Dave Barry's "Tips for Women", Ian Frazier's ...more
With stories from Mark Twain, Hunter S. Thompson and The Onion this anthology is a schooling in humor. The selections are top quality and none failed to bring out a smile, if not a stifled guffaw (I mainly read this in the break room so I didn't let loose with the nose snort or the hearty guffaw).

I would recommend this book, I found it witty and clever and hilarious. I read every inch, from the introduction from Andy Borowitz, who if nothing else, seemed to have a great sense of humor did a wond
Robert Bason
Someone gave me this book - and I did enjoy reading it. Unfortunately, I then gave it away. I'd like to have it back to look up something funny - especially after reading Henry Miller.
Fascinating - and funny - history tour of the American psyche and sense of humor, starting with a Mark Twain piece from 1879 on "A Presidential Candidate" and proceeding in chronological order. The last piece is Larry Wilmore writing on how America should apologize for slavery and titled "If Not an Apology, at Least a "My Bad"". In this collection you'll re-enjoy some old favorites as well as discover some new nuggets. The intro by Andy Borowitz is hysterical. Adding to my enjoyment was that I w ...more
Amber Hyun Jung Kim
Could have been funnier, but there ARE some delightful gems.
I love Andy Borowitz and usually like comedy writing, so I thought this was a no-brainer. But try as I might, I couldn't even crack a smile through the first 75% of this book (with the exception of Mark Twain). I ended up skipping to sections by comedians I already know like George Carlin, Woody Allen, Bernie Mac, etc. All their stuff was great, but it kind of defeats the purpose of buying an anthology to only read stuff you already know. Every time I tried Andy's recommendation on someone new, ...more
Oliver Ho
A fun and wide-ranging collection, arranged in chronological order, which gives an interesting view of comedic styles from 1879 to 2009. As I read, I kept trying to identify what drew Andy Borowitz to a particular piece, just out of curiosity and to see if there were any common elements across the collection. At first I thought it might have been the dry tone and cleverness, but the collection has greater variety than that. I can imagine returning to this, dipping in for particular pieces.
A few of the pieces were excellent, but most of them I wasn't crazy about. great Dorothy Parker and SJ Perelman pieces were excellent back to back selection I really liked, but rest was either not worth my time or only mildly amusing. I did find interesting the original story that was the basis of Vacation, by John Hughes. The movie is nearly identical to his story.

worth borrowing to skim the 2 selections above, though.
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