Where do I begin to describe the absolutely astonishing quality of Leacock's work? I first heard of Stephen Leacock when reading a book about the Marx brothers. It seems Groucho was on a train, and happened to pass the room of Jack Benny (who was traveling with them, working on the same vaudeville circuit. Groucho heard Benny screaming with laughter, and popped his head into Benny's room to see what the commotion was. Benny told Groucho that it was a book by Leacock, whom Groucho admitted to not knowing. Benny told Groucho, "It's the funniest stuff I've ever read!" Groucho later bought a copy of the book, loved it as much as Benny, and said that he always looked for anything written by Stephen Leacock.
Okay, but what about his stories? Leacock's stock in trade was the parody of classic literature - stories about humble girls of (unknowingly) noble ancestry, who are engaged to work as servants for title lords, only to fall in love with the son of the mansion are turned into hysterically funny romps, where the lies not in the intentionally funny line, but in carefully crafted twists of standard sentence construction.
A sample, from the above-described story, called "Gertrude the Governess; or Simply Seventeen":
"Young Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the house, flung himself upon his horse, and rode madly off in all directions."
Leacock treats the classic tale of knighthood (handsome, strong knight declares his love for the gentle maiden of the castle, and she loves him too, though they've never met) to similarly wicked entanglement of story and prose.
"Sorrows of a Super Soul" tells the classic Russian tale of an unrequited love, while "Carolyn's Christmas" the story of the old farmer, his family away (one son in the city, another in prison), his farm mortgaged, and a strange girl happening upon the family on Christmas Eve, with a baby, but no wedding ring. Both of these, and all other stories in this slim book, will have you laughing until you cry.
Buy a copy, get hooked. If Groucho and Jack Benny thought this was the best humor ever, how can it not satisfy you too?