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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining & Informative
Critchley's book is not an overview of what human beings find funny and he is quite open about this. He recognises that jokes, laughter etc. have been around for a long time but that humour is a relatively 'modern' invention. What he has to say about humour is engaging, entertaining and as in depth as one could expect from a book this size. I found myself smiling at...
Published on 8 Oct 2002

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3.0 out of 5 stars Complicated but needed
It's incredibly dry and hard to grasp. It's a very in depth analysis of comedy about how and why we laugh. I didn't enjoy it particular but some of the concepts were interesting. It's not very accessible to understanding comedy theories if you're starting out as a comedy scholar.
Still, it's definitely a book needed in the field, where jokes are casually looked at...
Published 5 months ago by Ross


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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining & Informative, 8 Oct 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: On Humour (Thinking in Action) (Paperback)
Critchley's book is not an overview of what human beings find funny and he is quite open about this. He recognises that jokes, laughter etc. have been around for a long time but that humour is a relatively 'modern' invention. What he has to say about humour is engaging, entertaining and as in depth as one could expect from a book this size. I found myself smiling at the examples he cites and largely convinced by the argument he presents. Most importantly for a philosophy book it made me think about humour more deeply and also made me look at the world around me in a different light. 'On Humour, is a certainly a book that I would recommend.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Complicated but needed, 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: On Humour (Thinking in Action) (Paperback)
It's incredibly dry and hard to grasp. It's a very in depth analysis of comedy about how and why we laugh. I didn't enjoy it particular but some of the concepts were interesting. It's not very accessible to understanding comedy theories if you're starting out as a comedy scholar.
Still, it's definitely a book needed in the field, where jokes are casually looked at and not enough science and reason is put behind it. For the experienced and scietific only, not a book to casually read without it making you think.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about nothing, 30 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: On Humour (Thinking in Action) (Paperback)
Not very impressed with this. Critchley presents us with a rather prescriptive view of humour which although at times is a little interesting, is in the main quite unplausable. What is never realised acknowledged is that the kind of humour discussed in the book is not what makes up the majority of the humour that most of us laugh at, but in fact a kind of "wry smile" humour, laughing at the hopelessness of it all. This is all well and good but the book purports to be a discussion of humour in general, yet falls well wide of the mark.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very true but not necessarily funny, 21 April 2013
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This review is from: On Humour (Thinking in Action) (Paperback)
As with Free Will (a subject I most recently wrote about here) Humour is something we all recognise, but when forced to describe come up lacking. Certainly all attempts to explain jokes fail which is perhaps why the best part of this book are the good jokes (The Telephone Joke and the one about Attila the Hun).

Humour seems to have physical boundary which is why I narrowly escaped an assault when the German I was joking with failed to see my light-heartedness and why jokes that once made sense sometimes no longer seem witty (say anything from Morecombe and Wise). Does anyone now find Chaplin funny? Has there ever been a decent female comedian? - and consider how someone like Jim Jefferies, who perhaps does not even have the best of verbal deliveries is so observant of human nature as he manages to say what one always somehow felt was the case but had not managed to find the words to express the thought. Why is it that Kenneth Williams giving a lecture as a Professor of Archaeology is funny yet Peter Cushing giving a lecture as a Professor of Anthroplogy isn't, and yet on reflection Cushing is ridiculous as Van Helsing lecturing the Chinese on Vampires (that really should be funny!) whereas Williams as Professor Crump, getting his notes in a muddle and finding (as a result) to his extreme embarrasement that the endings of his sentences have unintened sexual connotations (and which the audience seem to enjoy) should be the stuff of nightmares.

I always thought that jokes aimed at national stereotypes (apart from being largely true) far from being a sign of hatred acted as a sign of inclusivity - we don't make jokes about - say, Kenyans or Thais, but then we have little to do with those nations. Perhaps for that reason I now find Sacha Baron Cohen's ridiculing of Khazaks beneath contempt; nasty, unfair and cruel.

Unlike Critchley I still find the Pythons funny, especially the Jokes about Philosophers. So why does Critchley balk at the Python Jokes which he finds 'racist' and 'sexist' but not - so it seems - about dim-witted soccer-players or Nazis. Seems to me that the PC squad may have got to him - for to place a category beyond humour is to render it sacred - recall Muggeridge and The Bishop huffing and puffing about surely the funniest British film ever made, where they entirely failed to see the joke, which was not in any event about their own sacred cow - nevertheless what else is one to suspect from Britain's leading Continental Philosopher. Lighten up Critchley I would say, which is indeed what he rightly encourages in the last few pages.
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On Humour (Thinking in Action)
On Humour (Thinking in Action) by Simon Critchley (Paperback - 31 May 2002)
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