Book Report: Jokes and Anecdotes for All Occasions by Ralph L. Marquard (1977)

Book coverThis book says “for all occasions,” but I get the sense from the nature of the gags that most were written for presentation at a Catskills resort in the middle part of the 20th century. Most of the jokes have a Jewish flavor, relying on characters named Moishe, Max, Shmuel, and so on who work in the garment district on Manhattan. Most, but not all. The books aren’t anti-semitic, but poke fun at some of the stereotypes as seen by New York comics.

Other jokes and anecdotes run to the preachy, lacking punchlines but offering a certain moral to the story. I don’t disagree with the morals, of course, but they weren’t funny.

Was the book funny? Not really; in the 34 years since its publication and probably 60 years since much of the material was fresh, humor has gotten punchier. Most of the stuff in this book wouldn’t make the cut at Reader’s Digest or the Saturday Evening Post.

However, I did find some movie ties. The joke told by Eddie Murphy (made up as an old Jewish man) in Coming to America? It’s in here. The anecdote that introduces us to Clint Eastwood’s character in The Eiger Sanction (“Professor, I would do anything to improve my grade.” “Are you free such-and-such night?” “Yes.” “Good, because you need to study.”)? It’s in here.

But that’s the best redeeming feature of the book. Also, the Cardinals and Packers have done well while I’ve flipped through it.

Books mentioned in this review: