Cartoonist David Cohen has long been a staple of the local arts scene. After gracing these pages with his work for many years, he moved on, some months ago, to that other paper down the way. But Cohen's audience has long extended far beyond these mountains: He's also a regular contributor to The Funny Times, the nationally renowned humor tabloid based in Cleveland, Ohio.
That successfully wacky paper has now published a "best of" collection, titled The Best of the Best American Humor, and Cohen's work is in it, too.
All told, it's a wonderful, wonderful book.
P.E. Mueller, a recent addition to the Xpress humor roster, is the most frequently reprinted cartoonist in this happy collection. And the contributions by Marian Henley, Nicole Hollander, Ted Rall and the somehow ever-fresh Jules Feiffer, in particular, make this volume a cartoon aficionado's delight.
Verbal humor is also well represented. Despite a few predictable, even tedious, pieces by such media darlings as Dave Barry and Andrei Codrescu, there is so much good stuff between these covers that the reader can easily forgive a bit of pro forma nodding to the jaded famous. The wide-ranging essays cover everything from animals to zymurgy.
Well, not zymurgy per se, but drinking, which seems close enough. Susan Shapiro puts on nicotine patches, Steve Olstad makes bets with God, and Margo Kaufman considers male hypochondria, delivering a steady stream of chuckles all the while. And Bob Harris checks in with the first-ever unbiased account of the Indy 500 (it is worse than you figured -- and funnier).
This book would make a great gift for the reader on your list whose to-read heap is already three feet tall and wobbling. This one will giggle, "Open me first!"