The Funny 50: A Cavalcade Of Comic Writers

Play associated audio

Writer and comedian Andy Borowitz says he initially got into comedy for one simple reason: girls.

In addition to using his jokes to charm women, Borowitz has also written for The New Yorker and runs a satirical blog called The Borowitz Report. His latest project is The 50 Funniest American Writers: An Anthology of Humor from Mark Twain to The Onion.

Borowitz read more than 1,000 stories before whittling his selection down to 50. Comedic writers who made the cut include Woody Allen and David Sedaris. But the book also features writers who are more famous for their serious work, like Langston Hughes and Sinclair Lewis.

"Sinclair Lewis could be funny when he wanted to be," Borowitz tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

The Lewis story he included is an excerpt from the 1922 book Babbitt, which Borowitz calls "a great satire of Midwestern, middle-class conformity."

"He takes Babbitt through his lunch hour, where he goes to his club in his Midwestern town, and it's really just a little comic masterpiece," he says.

The book also includes one of the first stories ever published by John Hughes, the director of 1980s teen comedies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The story hasn't been published since the 1970s when it first appeared in National Lampoon magazine.

"This is the one piece in the book that I think really justifies the entire purchase price of the book," he says. "It's this very surreal story of the all-American family vacation that goes awry. Now this later, of course, become the Chevy Chase Vacation movies, and it led to his amazing run of successful comedy movies."

Borowitz says being able to share long-since-forgotten stories, like the one by Hughes, was one of the best parts of editing the book.

"It's very cool to me as an anthologist to be able to unearth something like this and share it with an audience that would otherwise never see it," he says.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Remains In Jamestown Linked To Early Colonial Leaders

Scientists from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and The Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation say they've identified four men buried in the earliest English church in America.
WAMU 88.5

The Democracy Of The Diner

Whether the decor is faux '50s silver and neon or authentic greasy spoon, diners are classic Americana, down to the familiar menu items. Rich, poor, black, white--all rub shoulders in the vinyl booths and at formica counters. We explore the enduring appeal and nostalgia of the diner.

WAMU 88.5

D.C. Council Member David Grosso

D.C. Council Member and Chair of the Committee on Education David Grosso joins us to discuss local public policy issues, including the challenges facing D.C. Public Schools.

NPR

Twitter Faces Challenges As It tries To Balance Profitability, Popularity

The social network Twitter is popular with users, but that's not enough. It also needs to be profitable, and by its 140-character nature that's a challenge.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.