Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Comedy by the Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity” as Want to Read:
Comedy by the Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Comedy by the Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  140 ratings  ·  19 reviews
This book is perfect for people who are funny and for those who aren't funny (thus it is marketable to 100 percent of the population). As we all know, true creativity comes from simple formulas and the memorization of data. This new bible makes the secrets of comedy accessible, not only to those funny few among us, but also to those who might not have the ability or talent ...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published May 4th 2007 by McSweeney's
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 Comedy by the Numbers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Comedy by the Numbers

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  140 ratings  ·  19 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Comedy by the Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
The humor here is the commitment to form and frequent #3 underlined by the use of #11, #43 and #152. Thankfully the #110 seemed to be of the #62 variety. And admit it, you enjoyed the #149 form used for #96, #105, and #120.

I would give more details, but I'm trying to do my part to help with the author's goal (outlined at the beginning and end of their book). Go buy one and find out what it is!

For extra credit go to and check out the short films.
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is great to grab in a free couple minutes, flip to a random page and get some "comedy advice." Some of it is is laugh out loud funny, particularly the list of novelty items ("itchy milk, hobo negligee, dead relative Halloween mask, etc.), and the rest is more smirky funny. ...more
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: my former bosses
This book is more of a guide to being moderately amusing than it is a guide to honest-to-gosh comedy. Even if it's a parody of "how to" books, designed to illustrate the futility of teaching people how to embrace talents as instinctual as comic timing, this book rates a big FAIL. Sure, there are some chuckles to be had, and you could probably stock your bathroom book rack with worse toilet reading, but when you consider the past efforts of the authors, you kinda wonder what fell flat when they w ...more
Tony Phonethibsavads
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I first read this, I took this a little bit too literally as a manual for tropes and comic devices, but when I read this as a parody of how-to books, then it became quite brilliant. It provides dozens of comic devices and is genuinely funny. This should be seen as a brochure that hows you examples of many things possible given different topics, not a dogma which tells you what is absolute.

This book has no plot, so it is impossible to spoil.
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I may not ever finish this...completion is not the intent of this book. There is no plot, etc. This is a reference book. Perhaps best consumed while traveling, washing clothes (my application), working (me, again), passively watching tv and so on. This book is pretty gall-dern funny. I find it to be most funny in the minor details rather than broad strokes. The final entry is the coup de grace.
Jul 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bathroom
Good laughs were had in the Euphemism at the Maupin estate this month. For anyone keeping track, "Women" are #169 (the last one) - which is itself funny, because women aren't even funny! That's why this book is so great/ useful/ educational! Plus it uses exclamation points the proper way! To encourage excitement!

Kudos as well for the serious paean to the Goons somewhere in the midst of all the mockery of the world of komedy. Let's hope it takes.

Jan 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: set-aside
So far, this is less of a funny book than I thought it would be, and more of am actual guide on how to be funny, which is pretty interesting. One of the two authors is Eric Hoffman, whom I _believe_ was a writer on Mr. Show. Not positive, if anyone wants to help me out here.
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Everyone in my family
Recommended to Shawn by: Katie and David
A very silly book that makes me laugh out loud each time I read a section of it. It's a McSweeney's book, like the website of the same name, rated R for hilaRious. ...more
Aug 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Would love to hear a reading of the book by the authors, in its book form it wasn't as funny as I hoped it to be. One can read list only so long until the mind is ignoring needed timing. ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Cute more often than funny. Skimmed the second half because it was becoming more off chore to finish.
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: uptights, squares, and sad ghosts.
includes the equivalent of TWO volumes of comedy!

moves from the basics (#19: contact with something that isn't dry) to the advanced (#158: ugly people) in 169 simple, factual lessons.

Michael Dorsher
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting concept, and humorously written. Good for a reference book. Can you write a joke for every Number?
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: comedians
Shelves: read-and-loved
The pure genius involved in brainstorming this book would be enough excitement for me!
Steven Pattison
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it
A textbook on how to be funny in any context and any situation. This would be just any standard comedy writing book but the clever writing and lack of a serious tone made it a fun read.
Jul 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: humorless zombies
are you funny? do you want to be? this book will introduce you to the entire known comedic world in 169 easy, alphabetized steps.

apparently, it helps to be fat. or named steve martin.
Best if read aloud to those around you.

The gags generally weren't that funny if only read to oneself.
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who "get it"
More earnest than you think.
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Scientifically proven applications for comedy. You can't go wrong. ...more
Doibles Magauzem
rated it really liked it
Oct 22, 2007
Matt Evans
rated it liked it
Jul 16, 2008
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Good for about three laughs. Unfortunately no resale value.
Kevin Wilder
rated it liked it
Sep 03, 2007
Greg  Johnson
rated it it was amazing
Sep 19, 2014
Alexander Czysz
rated it liked it
Jul 01, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jun 17, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Apr 30, 2008
Brian Bieber
rated it liked it
Oct 11, 2013
Scott Simpson
rated it it was ok
Jul 07, 2008
rated it it was amazing
Mar 03, 2008
Jennifer Royan
rated it liked it
Feb 04, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy
  • The Journal Of John Woolman
  • The Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels #4)
  • The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User's Manual
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • George Washington
  • The Neil Gaiman Library Volume 1
  • King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine
  • The Friend
  • King Henry VI, Part 3
  • In Her Skin
  • Some Fruits of Solitude / More Fruits of Solitude
  • The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence, #1)
  • The Turn of the Screw
  • Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction
  • Of Color
  • Petals to the Metal  (The Adventure Zone Graphic Novels #3)
  • William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope (William Shakespeare's Star Wars, #4)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
1 follower
Eric Hoffman (aka Eric Von Hoffman) was born in 1963 in Angola, Indiana. He is the co-author/cartoonist of the McSweeney's how-to humor bible, "Comedy by the Numbers." He was a writer on the influential TV sketch program Mr. Show with Bob and David, and the Netflix reunion show W/Bob and David, and co-wrote the Girlfriend's Day film with Bob Odenkirk. ...more

News & Interviews

Science fiction and fantasy are the go-to genres for writers—and readers!—who like to explore the wilder borderlands of contemporary fiction....
82 likes · 29 comments