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The Joker: A Memoir
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The Joker: A Memoir

3.11  ·  Rating Details ·  89 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
From an award-winning poet and compulsive joke teller, a memoir about the jokes that educated him about history, religion, and family—delighting him, and often horrifying him, as he grew into adulthood.

Since Andrew Hudgins was a child, he was a compulsive joke teller, so when he sat down to write about jokes, he found that he was writing about himself—what jokes taught him
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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(showing 1-30)
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Juliana Gray
Jul 05, 2013 Juliana Gray rated it it was amazing
This is one of the smartest books I've read this year. Hudgins doesn't simply recount his life story; rather, he structures his memoir around the evolution of his sense of humor, his love of jokes, and the subject matter (religion, race, and sex) that he heard most often and was most affected by as he came of age in Alabama. Some critics don't seem to like or understand Hudgins's hybridization of memoir and analysis of humor, but I found it intelligent, moving, and laugh-out-loud funny.
Jul 19, 2013 Ubersmaug rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Meh. Unfortunately, I was expecting more jokes and less memoir, and I got more memoir with not enough jokes, which would be nice if I'd a) at least heard of this guy before I read his book or b) cared, but I didn't, and reading lots and lots and LOTS about him didn't make me care about him more. The beginning starts off well enough with all the jokes you tell as a kid and why they are funny, or not, depending. There are a lot of religious jokes, but so much of it is about him and his upbringing ...more
May 18, 2013 Brandon rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
The Joker is an interesting read about the life of Andrew and his need for laughter and jokes. Most of the book is about his life growing up and his need to understand words, and later on jokes. A majority of the jokes are racist or deal with sex, so if you are expecting a book about clean jokes, this is not the book for you. I felt it was relatively long and slow at points, but still a decent read.
Jun 11, 2014 Ashley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
First, I have to apologize for my lack of blog post. I know that its been long anticipated, and I appreciate your patience with me. Again, I apologize.

The reason for my lack of blog post is because, honestly, well, I have been stuck on this memoir for review. I am not one of those people that can read multiple books at once. I also cannot, not, finish a book. The book that I started in the beginning of July is, The Joker by Andrew Hudgins.

Andrew Hudgins grew up in Alabama with a strict father, a
Mar 20, 2013 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, humor
I have never been a joke-teller, other than elephant or knock-knock jokes, but loved the television shows of Lucille Ball, Bill Cosby, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Jack Benny, Robin Williams, the appearances of Jonathan Winters and many of the Saturday Night Live skits. I never saw the humor in the Three Stooges and Don Rickles. There was always a biting sarcasm to so much of their humor.

This book explained much of why I was, and still am, uncomfortable to many jokes and jokesters. I appreci
Matt Lohr
Apr 10, 2013 Matt Lohr rated it really liked it
A book I'd like to give to everyone who's ever wrinkled their nose or flat out gotten angry over a joke I've told. I have for years had a reputation as a "room-clearer", the man who revels in telling jokes that end the conversation and disgust half the people within earshot. Why do I do it? Why do I exult in telling jokes that I know to be patently false, insulting, vicious, blasphemous, or just plain gross? Andrew Hudgins's chronicle of his life as an inveterate, sometimes uncontrollable joker ...more
Ricky Kilmer
Jun 17, 2014 Ricky Kilmer rated it liked it
I received a copy on the mail a few days ago. I am thankful for the book and looked forward to reading this story. It starts out great in his youth and takes you along for the ride. There's some laugh out loud parts and a few tugs of the heart along the way. Andrew shares his memories with us all in an accessible and easy to read way. while I love to read and I'm not sorry to have read this glimpse into his life, it's a book I probably wouldn't have ran out to buy after having read it. I would s ...more
In this memoir, Andrew Hudgins discusses how jokes have been a part of his life and shaped some of his thinking. He goes into great detail of the history of different types of jokes, their origins, and how jokes allowed him to learn about different taboo subjects as he grew up - sex, racism, religion.

Many of the jokes and discourses on them made me uncomfortable. Mostly because they felt like excuses to tell unfunny jokes/stories and rationalize how they reflect stereotypes or denigrate groups o
David V.
Apr 15, 2013 David V. rated it really liked it
Received as an ARC from the publisher. Read it in just a few days.
Whew!!!! What can I say about The Joker? If you expect a book of terrific jokes, this ain't it! It's the memoir of a poet who loves telling and hearing jokes. He analyzes his life and the jokes he heard along the way, through his school years, his numerous re-locations as a "military brat," from friends, openly racist relatives, his marriage, his divorce, and his second marriage. I cringed on almost every page as most of the jokes
Nov 09, 2014 Nicki rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book through Good Reads First Reads.

After what I felt was a slow start, this book got good. In a memoir that doesn't feel much like a memoir, the author takes jokes that he's encountered throughout his life and dissects them, analyzing why we find them funny. Instead of avoiding racist, sexist, and religion-based humor, he takes these jokes head-on and tells us why we laugh when we think we shouldn't. He refreshingly admits laughing at jokes we're supposed to find
Sep 03, 2013 Samantha rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I really liked this book, but it was hard to place it. It really was split down the middle - half memoir, half joke analysis - and I can see how a reader who wanted more of one would be disappointed. However, I thought the memoir aspects that peeked in were touching and thoughtful, the meditations on humor both amusing and insightful, and the interplay between the two balanced and complementary. I could feel a little bit of Hudgins' joker in myself, too, so the reassurance he offered was nice.
Apr 08, 2013 Paige rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book as part of the first reads program. I was so excited when I won my book and thought this book was going to be really great. I was unfortunately let down. I felt the author was too wordy and took way to long to get to the point. I also felt that for the most part there wasn't a lot of jokes in the book. I did think about humor as a whole in a new light though. I hadn't really thought of what the world would be like if nobody laughed. Overall, this book was okay. The book isn't eve ...more
May 25, 2014 Betty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is unlike any book I have ever read. It's an analysis of jokes, who finds them funny and why and also an autobiography. The author grew up in a very conservative household and attended very conservative churches. He was also a military brat who used jokes to break the ice with new people when he arrived in yet another new location. This is an examination of his life as well as his humor. I received this book through a giveaway sponsored by Goodreads.
This has been getting such great press I wanted to skim it and see what the fuss was about. As a recovering class clown, I certainly identify with that seemingly undeniable need to crack a joke even if you're totally unsure of your audience and outcome. Hudgins cannot NOT joke, and it's led him into hilarity and, at times, less than ideal situations. Good for Father's Day, esp. if your dad is a jokester!
Jun 16, 2014 Victoria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book from Goodreads (Thank You)

I could not make it past page 9. At first I thought maybe the pain medication I was on was making my brain fuzzy and that's why I could not comprehend the introduction so I put the book aside and waited for a week to try again.

Tried again starting with chapter one and still no connection to this book or the story.

Think I will put this book on my nightstand for those times when I need something to put me to sleep.
Jul 11, 2013 Nicholle rated it it was ok
Shelves: nf, memoir-bio
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
*I received a free copy of The Joker: A Memoir from Goodreads' First Reads program.
This not for the easily offended. Jokes are everywhere, but there is also analysis behind the jokes and humor as a whole. Coming from a dysfunctional family, reading this book made my day!
Daphne Atkeson
Nov 22, 2013 Daphne Atkeson rated it liked it
I would have given this book a 4, but the energy, fresh insights, eerily reminiscent observations about the jokes of childhood/adolescents petered out (sorry) by 3/4 through and the "punchline" fell flat. Kept me interested, however, and I'm not fond of memoirs.
Jun 08, 2013 Wanda rated it it was ok
This book was a good reads giveaway I would not have bought the book. This book was hard to read mainly because most of the jokes were crude and insensitive. Yet, due to his life circumstance, I can understand why he would relate to being a "jokester".
Allison Sweeney
May 03, 2013 Allison Sweeney rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, I thought it was well written and made me smile. Thumbs up!
Sep 01, 2013 Jenny rated it it was ok
I appreciate that the author is trying to be frank, but racist and sexist jokes will never be funny to me.
Jul 02, 2013 Meg rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Some off-color jokes that were integral to the storyline were not enjoyable for me to read.
This review is based on an ARC provided to me by the publisher.
May 05, 2013 Molly rated it it was ok
An occasionally funny, mostly pleasant, sometimes tedious memoir. I guess the take home is: the more you think about a joke the less funny it usual is.
Mar 24, 2013 Mr. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
A very interesting book,
I really enjoyed it.
Jul 16, 2013 Keith rated it it was amazing
A funny and poignant book by one of the best teachers I ever had.
Dave Madden
Dave Madden rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2016
Randy rated it really liked it
Aug 20, 2013
Str8ev rated it it was ok
Apr 02, 2014
Zeke rated it it was ok
Aug 26, 2013
Regina Mascia
Regina Mascia rated it liked it
Aug 01, 2013
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ANDREW HUDGINS is the author of seven books of poems, including Saints and Strangers, The Glass Hammer, and most recently Ecstatic in the Poison. A finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, he is a recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships as well as the Harper Lee Award. He currently teaches in the Department of English at Ohio State University.
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