David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Sports, Thanksgiving, Titles, Tobacco


• Sports writers sometimes lead interesting lives. Back when figure skater Katarina Witt was competing internationally for East Germany, many people believed that the East German athletes were using steroids. (In fact, some were.) However, at a press conference, Ms. Witt denied ever using steroids. She leaned forward, then told the sports writers, “Look at these boobs! If I were on steroids, would I have boobs like this?”


• For a party, gay author Joel Perry ordered a turkey to be prepared by HoneyBaked. Unfortunately, when he arrived with his reservation number to pick up the turkey, he was informed that it had already been sold. One other turkey was on display, so he asked if he could buy it, but the salesperson informed him that someone else was buying it. A gay man expecting 20 people for dinner is not to be trifled with, so Mr. Perry jumped over the counter, grabbed the turkey, threw down $50, then dashed out of the store.


• Children’s book author Lois Lowry plays a game with children and other people, a game with no wrong answers. The game is played when she and others are looking at a scene, and someone asks, “What book does this remind you of?” For a meadow scene, the answers may range from Gone With the Wind to Wind in the Willows to Where the Wild Things Are. All of these answers are right. Usually, the answers differ considerably, but on one occasion everyone came up with the same book title. Watching a 15-month-old boy play with his food in a high chair, everyone answered, James and the Giant Peach.

• Cranston Toller was and is a controversial, outspoken figure skater and artist. When Mr. Toller wrote Zero Tollerance, his autobiography, an editor suggested that he subtitle it Chronicles of a Misspent Life. Mr. Toller would have none of that, saying, “How dare you? My life has not been misspent. My life has been textured.”

• Gail Godwin wrote a novel titled The Good Husband. She sent her assistant to copy some of the pages from the manuscript, and her assistant reported that while she was copying the pages, another woman had seen the title and snorted, “Ha! Where? Let me know when you find him.”


• Andrew Tobias, an anti-smoking activist, was annoyed by a plane flying over his vacation home and displaying the pro-tobacco banner “Newport: Alive with Pleasure,” so he hired another plane to display the banner “Larry Tisch Sells Cancer Sticks.” (Larry Tisch controlled the company that manufactures Newport cigarettes.) The next summer, another pro-tobacco plane flew over his vacation home bearing the banner “Parliament: The Perfect Recess.” (This sounds like a tobacco advertisement aimed at schoolchildren.) So Mr. Tobias hired another plane to display the banner “Parliament: The PERMANENT Recess.” The summer after that, no pro-tobacco plane appeared, so Mr. Tobias hired a final plane to display the banner “Thank You for Not Smoking.”

• As you would expect, children’s book author Dr. Seuss had a quirky sense of humor. When he decided to quit smoking, he bought a corncob pipe and put radish seeds in its bowl. After boarding a bus, he put the unlit pipe in his mouth, held it there for several minutes, then pulled an eyedropper from his pocket and squirted several drops of water into the bowl. Of course, a woman asked him, “What are you doing?” Dr. Seuss replied, “I’m watering the radishes.”


• While Mark Twain was traveling in Europe (an adventure he wrote about in Innocents Abroad), a number of tour guides made his life miserable, so with the help of a few friends, he decided to make the tour guides’ lives miserable. For the duration of the trip, Mark Twain and his friends refused to be impressed by anything a tour guide showed them. Once, a tour guide showed them a letter handwritten by Christopher Columbus. One of Mark Twain’s friends looked at the letter and complained about the sloppy penmanship, “Why, I have seen boys in America only fourteen years old that could write better than that.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


The Funniest People in Books — Buy:



Barnes and Noble




Music recommendation: Los Immediatos — “Viaje Interior ” [“Interior Journey”]


Music: “Viaje Interior ” [“Interior Journey”]


Artist: Los Immediatos

Record Company: Roctopus Tea Party Records

Record Company Location: Toledo, Spain

Info: This is a compilation record featuring four songs each by these groups:

Los Chavales

Los Guajes

Los Immediatos


Genre: Rock




Roctopus Tea Party Records


Los Immediatos on Bandcamp


Los Chavales


Los Guajes