David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Couples, Critics


• Humorist H. Allen Smith made a trip with his wife to visit places he had lived at as a young man. He and his wife went to visit a dance club where Mr. Smith had very happy memories of squiring his girlfriends. They discovered that the dance club had been torn down and its foundation was in the middle of a pasture where a goat was grazing. Mr. Smith’s wife told him, “I see one of your old girlfriends is left.”

• English critic Sir Max Beerbohm and his aging wife went to a party. Sir Max was immediately surrounded by many beauties who wanted to impress him, but as soon as it was proper for him to leave the party, he turned to his wife and said, “Darling, let’s go to a restaurant and find a quiet corner. You are looking so charming tonight that I want to talk to you alone.”

• Beatrice Kaufman, the wife of playwright George S., was brilliant in her own right. Playing the game “Ask Me Another,” which bored her, she was asked, “Who wrote The Virginian?” Having correctly answered “Owen Wister,” she was asked the next question, “Who wrote The Virginians?” This time she answered “Owens Wisters.”

• G.K. Chesterton was disorganized in his personal life, and he relied on his wife to keep track of his appointments. One day, he sent her a telegram: “AM IN MARKET HARBOROUGH. Where ought I to be?” She wired him back: “HOME.”

• Gail Parent writes comedy, which has occasionally led to problems. While she was in college, a suitor gave her one perfect rose. She ruined what could have been a tender romantic moment by asking, “Where are the other eleven?”


• Pat Hutchins wrote a children’s book titled The Mona Lisa Mystery, in which someone smuggles the famous painting from the museum by wrapping it around a leg then wrapping a bandage over the painting. After the book was published, a child wrote her to say that the painting could not be smuggled out of the museum in that way — the Mona Lisa is painted on wood. Ms. Hutchins did some extra research and discovered that the child was right.

• The Ukrainian playwright O.E. Korneychuk wrote plays praising the Communists of the USSR. In one underground joke, Comrade Korneychuk said that he had put a lot of fire into his new play. A theater-goer replied, “It would have been better if it had been the other way around.”

• Ballerina Margot Fonteyn was so famous that she had huge numbers of press clippings, most of which she neglected to read. However, one notice did give her special satisfaction: “Margot Fonteyn, who has triumphed in many more exotic places, last night conquered Flatbush.”

• Dorothy Parker — who signed her book reviews in The New Yorker as “Constant Reader” — disliked cutesy children’s books. She wrote this review of A.A. Milne’s House at Pooh Corner: “Tonstant Weader fwowed up.”

• Walter Savage Landor enjoyed criticizing many, many things. Once he even criticized the Psalms! Hearing this, a friend of his, Marguerite, Countess Blessington, smiled and said, “Do write something better, Mr. Landor.”

• After being barred from seeing the opening of a play, columnist Walter Winchell wrote that he would wait three days and see the play’s closing.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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