I am midway through my doctorate in contemporary American literature and found this book of great value. McDonald offers original, sharp readings, not only of the likes of Woody Allen, Douglas Coupland, and Bill Hicks, but also of texts you wouldn't ordinarily associate with comedy: he convincingly argues that humour is a central theme in ostensibly humourless works such as David Mamet's Oleanna and, not least, the terminally glum songs of Nirvana! Surely there must of some kind of award for such critical ingenuity? What is particularly useful is his accessible style, particularly when it comes to the notoriously abstruse and elusive concept of postmodernism. The introduction to this book offers one of the most lucid overviews of the subject available. McDonald - a well-known author of comic fiction himself - clearly has a love and understanding of humour, and while this book is not the place to look for jokes (his style here is scholarly rather than jokey), he presents some startling insights in a narrative that combines erudition with critical flair.