Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks)” as Want to Read:
Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  548 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
When Harold Ross founded The New Yorker in 1925, he called it a “comic weekly.” And although it has become much more than that, it has remained true in its irreverent heart to the founder’s description, publishing the most illustrious literary humorists in the modern era—among them Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Groucho Marx, James Thurber, S. J. Perelman, Mike Nichols, ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published October 15th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fierce Pajamas, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fierce Pajamas

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jason Koivu
Jul 11, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
The sort of stuff that would give Oscar Wilde an erection, Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New York collects some of the best short pieces published in this much revered publication through out its long life. There are short stories, editorials and satire from E.B. White, Woody Allen, Mike Nichols, Groucho Marx, Ogden Nash, James Thurber, Steve Martin, Garrison Keillor, Dorothy Parker, John Lardner, Phyllis McGinley, Jack Handy, and many more.

Filled mostly with clever obs
John Behle
Nov 28, 2015 John Behle rated it really liked it
Humor writing is a tough market. Funny means very different things to each one of us. So, a good way of doing a humor book is like this-build a reader (remember learning from well worn readers in grade school?) of many varied styles and topics.

This collection is wide ranging, going back to Dorthy Parker articles from the 1920's to Steve Martin from a few years ago. The array of writers gives it a cocktail party feel--breezing from one wry smile to another winking eye.

To be sure, this is grown-up
May 31, 2009 Brenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fierce pajamas, according to E. B. White, refers to those garments worn to bed in this illness-ridden plagued world, a world wholly unlike the vivacious livelihoods within the pages of a 1930s issue of Harper's Bazaar. It is a lifestyle unattainable, writes White, without vast quantities of quinine on top of delirium. Vogue is the good life, to make no mention of those portrayed within The New Yorker.

What was considered early in its life as the quintessential American humour magazine, The New Yo
John Wiswell
Dec 17, 2009 John Wiswell rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Humor readers, people who love The New Yorker
Talk about a mixed bag. Any collection of humor is going to be received differently, but a collection of humor from across decades, some by professional writers, some by actors and some by outright nutjobs is going to have its pieces of genius and its utter flops. Because this is an anthology of humor, the subject matter is all over the place. Communication with the dead, miscommunication in the household, a real-life affair with a literary character, an interview with a man who can only speak ...more
May 20, 2011 Cody rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
This is a good sample of many great humorists, some of whom did their best work in the New Yorker. It runs the gamut from classics like E.B. White, James Thurber, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, and S.J. Perelman to recent works from Jack Handey (yes, he is a real person), Garrison Keillor, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, and even Noah Baumbach (who has had a phantom career writing humor for the Shouts and Murmurs column in the New Yorker).

In Fierce Pajamas I have also discovered the key to reading
Vishnu Vardhan
Nov 07, 2015 Vishnu Vardhan rated it really liked it
Such a delight, such a fiercely enjoyable delight. I suggest that everyone have at least one copy of this at their homes, for laughter and mirth is always in short supply in our moribund lives these days and this volume does one of the best jobs a book has done to liven your mood. There are some outright classics, some you've read elsewhere, some you've seen adapted as a film and other such gems herein.

Go on, help yourself to generous dollops of wit and humour collected from the myriad editions
Jul 10, 2007 Rosa rated it liked it
Shelves: summer2007
Most of the pieces are pretty good. Jack Handy has an especially Handy-licious one. A few are too dull to finish.

Don't try to read this book cover to cover, unless you really, really like New Yorker humor. I made it about 2/3 through over the course of a month before giving up.

I think this is best suited for a bathroom book or a breakfast book - when a couple of pieces are read at a time. I checked this out from the library and did not have enough time to take it slowly.
Oct 10, 2007 Billy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Chris Matthews
This was a wedding present to me from C, and I read it throughout our honeymoon. I felt like a person of timeless, wood-barreled taste and class, going back and reading pieces by James Thurber and E.B. White. Good stuff from the magazine's more literary days (is it me, or are 77% of their articles now about Chanel?)
Dec 19, 2009 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: funny, compilation, essays
Contains very funny pieces by Steve Martin, James Thurber and Groucho Marx; unfortunately, it also has some dated stuff and I was unable to relate. Worth checking out of the ilbrary, which is where I stumbled upon it.
Jun 27, 2014 zack rated it liked it
Provides little more than inner "Huh, that's funny" laughs. Some of it gets pretty hilarious, but most of it (in particular, a piece where a man can speak only in clichés) has already been done to death, diluting the humor a bit. Thinking man's funny, I guess.
Apr 14, 2009 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the pieces make me laugh out loud, others leave me smiling and a few have caused me to scratch my head and wonder what I've missed.
Sep 13, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
I doubt readers will love every selection, but am certain they will find at least a few entries to love in this collection. Some of the stories are dated and others seem aimed at specific audiences, but if you enjoy reading The New Yorker, you'll love it. Many of the authors will be comfortably familiar. A few choices I had read before and remembered, but it was still fun reading them again. I fell in love again with Mitty.
Nov 02, 2009 Trilby rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, satire
I listened to the CD version of this book while I was driving back from Grand Marais. Some of the pieces in here made me laugh aloud: "Hassidic Tales, with a Guide to their Interpretation" by Woody Allen, "In the New Canada, Living is a Way of Life" by Bruce McColl," and "Writing Is Easy!" by Steve Martin. The one that made me laugh so hard I almost crashed (a liability of listening while driving) was "Glengarry Glen Plaid" by Frank Cammusa and Hart Seely, wherein a phone rep abuses a would-be ...more
Stephen Dorneman
Jul 07, 2012 Stephen Dorneman rated it it was ok
Reading Fierce Pajamas felt like being out at a bar with Charles Bukowski, Hemingway, and Dorothy Parker -- but everyone is drinking mocktails, sober as the proverbial judge. This is a long collection of short humor pieces from the New Yorker that doesn't happen to be particularly funny. Many of the older pieces are so dated that the modern reader has no idea what people, places, and incidents they refer too, and many others are maddeningly New Yorker-centric. The few classic pieces here, such ...more
Jan 18, 2009 Kim rated it really liked it
I didn't understand 80% of the humor - and if I weren't marooned in the wilds without interet, I might never have soldiered through the tome. But then what humor I did get was so rip-roariously funny, it was well worth the reading. Particular jewels that stick with me are (1) "Love Trouble is my Business" - a brilliant short story in which "Reagan" and "read Proust" are in every single sentence - must be read to be believed (2) "Tennis Personalities" ... an opinion piece with an opinion I ...more
Lori Theis
Dec 24, 2007 Lori Theis rated it it was amazing
Definitely not a "cover to cover" read but well worth picking up a few times a month. Ian Fraizer, Jack Handey, Steve Martin and many other fantastic humorists are here who you would otherwise probably not read unless you have a subscription to The New Yorker (and the time to read every issue). Paul Rudnick's "Teen Times" has headline gems like "Cancer: Shut Up!" and "Sweatshops: Can't They Make Our Clothes Without Touching Them?" and Jack Handey's "Thank You for Stopping" is another selection ...more
A. Kuhlii
Jan 27, 2014 A. Kuhlii rated it did not like it
Ugh. I made it about halfway through, thinking surely there must be something funny just around the corner, but it turned into an awful slog through pretentious, unfunny garbage. Maybe it has something to do with the lack of diversity in authors--out of 138 pieces only 18 are written by women. (Don't know the numbers on authors of color but I'd guess they're abysmal as well). There were a few saving graces--E.B. White's beautiful writing, Geng's Love Trouble is my Business, Gerber/Schwartz's ...more
Dec 12, 2010 Kristina rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
This is a long, mixed bag, but there are a few gems that make it worth picking up and plodding along through from time to time. The Rather Difficult Case of Mr. K*A*P*L*A*N; Annoy Kaufman, Inc.; It's Fun to Be Fooled; Are We Losing the Novel Race?; and Insert Flap "A" and Throw Away are a few of the pieces that stood out for me, but I have to admit that A Note on the Type was quite possibly my most favorite part.

I was so charmed by it I read it twice.
Feb 25, 2013 Chloe rated it liked it
Giving up on this. Those of you who know me know how much I hate doing that, but this was really more of a sample this, read that book than a sit down and devour book. A lot of the humor simply wasn't relatable, being from the 30's and all. However, got a few good chuckles in, and my does one look stylish when one reads the New Yorker in any of its forms. 2 1/2 stars, really.
Amy Barlow
Jul 05, 2007 Amy Barlow rated it it was amazing
This anthology includes a story in which Emily Dickinson keys a car. 'Nuf said.
Also: Steve Martin teaches us how to overcome writer's block. Woody Allen imagines a hassled affair with Emma Bovary. What if Mamet was forced to write blurbs for a catalog of comfortable clothing?
When I'm blue, this collection can take my sad song and make it better.
Sep 29, 2008 Catalina rated it it was amazing
Perhaps one of the best humor anthologies I have ever experienced. My former husband would read it to me before bed, and it would keep me up laughing. It's been years since I last picked it up and I am still laughing!
Jul 05, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
I like the idea, but some of the New Yorker humor is a bit high brow for my tastes. That said, some of the pieces were very funny … it just was not consistent. I will certainly try more collections from the New Yorker, though.( unabridged audiobook)
Sep 12, 2009 Meredith rated it liked it
When I was little, I would attempt to read my dad's James Thurber anthology (mostly I liked the illustrations) but the humor was always way over my head. Now I love it! Short stories and quick reads seems to be all I have time for right now, so this is perfect.
Jun 29, 2008 Jrobertus rated it really liked it
This collection of New Yorker humor pieces is priceless. The essays from the 30's and 40's are still hilarious and represent the work of some terrific writers. Jack Handy has a modern piece that totally cracked me up. Check this out.
Mike Bradecich
Jul 26, 2007 Mike Bradecich rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: bloggers
On a range of topics and dating back to the 20's, this has some classics that I've read or heard dozens of times and a ton of things that I've never seen. Some pieces are obviously better than others, but the majority are great and all are at least interesting.
Jul 06, 2011 Sofia rated it liked it
I enjoy opening this book to a random page and reading whatever I find. Almost always bring out a good chortle.
Feb 10, 2009 Al rated it it was amazing
Love the S.J. Perleman stuff, and Steve Martin and Woody Allen and Ian Frazier and all the writers. Kaufmann, Benchley, et al.
Jan 24, 2016 E rated it did not like it
What was funny about this book is that it is ostensibly humorous yet got me to crack a smile only once. (No actual laughter occurred.)
Jan 19, 2016 Stacy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Such a dissapointment for a book with a great title. I read about a third of the short pieces in this collection and they just were not humerous.
Apr 10, 2011 Judith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So many stories were dated, literally and figuratively. 1910, 1920s humor?! Oh, dear...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Nothing But You: Love Stories From The New Yorker
  • Lanterns & Lances
  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008
  • The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker
  • The Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater (book with 2 audio CDs)
  • About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made
  • Here at The New Yorker
  • The Benchley Roundup
  • Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara
  • L.A. Story and Roxanne: Screenplays
  • A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland
  • The Most Of S.J.Perelman
  • Whoredom In Kimmage: The Private Lives of Irish Women
  • The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in The New Yorker
  • Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney's Book of Lists
  • Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters
  • Dave Barry's Greatest Hits
  • The Essential Groucho: Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx
David Remnick (born October 29, 1958) is an American journalist, writer, and magazine editor. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin s Tomb The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998. He was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age in 2000. Before joining The New Yorker, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for Th ...more
More about David Remnick...

Share This Book

“WHEN you are creeping through the literary underbrush hoping to bag a piece of humor with your net, nothing seems funny,” Russell Baker wrote in a preface to an anthology of American humor that he compiled. “The thing works the other way around. Humor is funny when it sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise.” Yes,” 1 likes
“a cocktail of three parts gin to one part lime juice, honey, vermouth, and apricot brandy in equal portions—a cocktail so delicious” 0 likes
More quotes…