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Steve Allen's Private Joke File Paperback – 1 May 2001

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I loved Steve but this but book is a disappointment: 30 Aug. 2001
By Joel L. Gandelman - Published on
Format: Paperback
I ADORED Steve Allen. As a child I watched his show. I still remember watching the last television appearance of my hero Lou Costello, doing a solo comedy bit, his famous Army march routine, right after he split with Bud Abbott. I loved Steve Allen's syndicated show in the 60s. And about 10 years ago, I wrote him a letter telling him how much I loved his shows and his book More Funny People which contains marvelous profiles of comedians. I asked him where I could get the first edition, Funny People. About two weeks later I was shocked to open the door to find a UPS deliverman standing there with a BIG box of various autographed Steve Allen books. He had sent them to me FOR FREE -- to me, a journalist and a nobody. Today I am a fulltime ventriloquist -- a professional nobody. And I am amazed by his generosity. So rating this book three stars, especially so soon after his untimely death, is extremely sad for me. I feel like a traitor. But I have to be honest: this book is a HUGE disappointment. From the cover it looks as if he had seen Milton Berle's Private Joke File and decided to quickly put out his own. But unlike Uncle Miltie's thick two volumes of hilarious jokes, you don't sense that these were Steve Allen's best jokes or best collection of humorous material from his actual files. Berle seemed to offer readers the best that he had -- insults, puns, long jokes, roast lines, you name it. It was as if Berle was trying to pass on a legacy. Quite a few of Steve Allen's jokes are puns and other kinds of plays on words. Some are extremely old jokes found in kids joke books. Some are jokes that he apparently did use but are so incredibly dated you wonder if he even had an editor on this project. I always circle joke books and I honestly circled few here; there are SOME gems -- but if the book didn't have the name "Steve Allen" on it, the joke portions would not compare favorably to many other joke books. This book's best part is at the very end: his collection of speeches, monologues and essays. Some are too punny (he truly seems to have been heavily influenced by Groucho Marx and Groucho's plays on words)but some will indeed make you laugh out loud. The contrast between these sections and the supposedly private joke file is huge -- and the boring, done-to-death and dated stuff is not outweighed by the occasional hilarity. In all, Steve Allen's Private Joke File's content does not live up to the brand name. I almost gave this four stars in deference to a comic great. But I had to be honest: if his name was not on it, this would qualify as a VERY weak joke book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Miss Steve Allen with a smile 14 Mar. 2001
By mark critch - Published on
Format: Paperback
He invented in the talk show and was a true gentleman of comedy. This book is a time capsule of what great comedy was in the 50 years steve allen was on the scene. the most imitated man in show business, and the author of countless books, is perhaps the most qualified to give us the ultimate joke book. Not only will the amateur emcee or speech maker find comedic gold to mine, but the fans of Steves classic TV show while find many of his witty monologues and essays. The only negative criticism I'd have of this book is that joke books can be trying to read. It's more a comedic reference than anything else. You won't find yourself curl;ing up by the fire to read one liner after one liner, but the section of monologues provides much before bed delight! If you were saddened by steve's passing, you'll find plenty to sm,ile about here. In short, a great memento of the talent and an even greater comedic resource. Younger comics could learn that wit gets more laughs than vulgarity form this book!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A mixed bag of mostly dated material 29 July 2001
By Cris L. Edwards - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The late Steve Allen was a very smart and successful entertainer and writer. He is known to have started The Tonight Show and he published shelves full of books and songs. But this collection is lacking in a few areas-and this makes it a frustrating book. First, like Dumbth (another of his popular books), Allen beats the reader over the head with political agendas that severely detract from the reading. Sure, he might be right that TV violence can be bad, but is a joke book really the forum for such diatribes? Also, MANY of the jokes are so dated that the book seems like an antique though it was published just last year (2000). One joke starts: "Color television will be here soon." Another jokes about a vacuum salesman who goes to a house that has only gas and no electricity. Perhaps your great-grandmother will chuckle. Lastly, many of the jokes are so poorly put into context that they are impossible to understand. Some are not even complete one-liners: more like half-liners. A few jokes are sentence fragments. The reader longs for a good set-up and punchline. Many of the jokes smack of situations that were clearly funny to Allen when they occured (in the 50s?) but without having been there, I am left wondering where the humor is. There are several quips about stars of movies from decades ago. If you are not familiar with people like "Otto Preminger," forget trying to read this book. Under the heading of Shakespeare (there's one joke): "Shakespeare wrote a play about Popeye called Merchant of Spinach." That's funny? Clearly not because it's not a clever pun, nor does it make sense. Especially when we know that Popeye didn't sell spinach. He only consumed it. I could come up with puns like this all night. But I am not going to publish them. Also, these are family-oriented (though it would be perfect for a pre-1960s family) and some of the jokes are funnier when the reader tries to find unintended adult humor between the lines. All-in-all, this collection is tame and dated and frustrating, but if you just want to buy your grandparents a nice gift, they will adore this collection. ADDENDUM: To restate what another reviewer mentioned, the monologues and longer passages at the end of the book are actually rather funny because they have a context in which to make true humor.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Disappointed 9 Sept. 2008
By R. D. Stephenson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am a huge Steve Allen fan but I found the jokes in this book seem dated.
Great fun 23 Feb. 2015
By William Roger Davis - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We love Steve Allen, and always will - and we're so happy to have this book in our library.
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