A light introduction to the appealing, complicated subject of humor lacks the depth to do it justice.
Starting with an overview of how researchers look at humor, this uneven guide to a topic with potentially high kid-appeal meanders through loosely connected aspects of humor, offering anecdotes, quotes from experts and intriguing facts. Short chapters touch on the anatomy of laughter and the history of laugh tracks. A longer chapter discusses how humor differs between genders, among cultures and age groups and throughout history. Readers may be most interested in the final chapter on stand-up comedy and how to be funny. Jackson relies heavily on quotes from interviews with humor experts, working their names and titles awkwardly into the text. The academic nature of the quotes, suitable to a more substantial study of humor, jars with the author’s otherwise conversational, entry-level approach to the subject, raising questions about the intended audience. Generic cartoonish pictures and occasional jokes in boldface type illustrate points made in the text. Short sidebars explore topics such as the funny bone, tickling and texting abbreviations about humor.Mildly entertaining and informative but neither laugh-a-minute nor substantial enough for reports. (further reading, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)