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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    Is This Funny?

    By kyle | November 9, 2010

    I have no doubt that I would have laughed if I had listened to Conan O’Brien’s monologue last night. But would anyone laugh, or even crack a smile, while silently reading the following jokes? It’s interesting how “funny novelist/essayist/whatever” and “funny comedian” are two totally different things (although Steve Martin is both, as is Woody Allen).

    “Thank you. Thank you and welcome to my 2nd annual first show.”

    “Yes, I know what you guys are thinking, ‘Hey, it’s the guy from Twitter.’

    “Welcome to my new show, Conan. People ask me why I named the show “Conan.” I did it so I’d be harder to replace.

    “This is an exciting night. I’m glad to be on cable. The truth is, I’ve dreamed of being a talk show host on basic cable ever since I was 46.

    “And things are going well already. I’m happy to report that we’re already #1 in TBS’s key demographic — people who can’t afford HBO.

    “I’m going to be honest: It’s not easy doing a late-night show on a channel without a lot of money and that viewers have trouble finding. So that’s why I left NBC.

    “But the weird thing is this: I put myself and my staff through a lot because I refused to go on at midnight. So I get this job at eleven. Then, yesterday, Daylight Savings Time ended — so right now it’s basically midnight. In fact, it’s 12:05.

    “A lot’s happened in the news since I went off the air — and I was hoping I could cover it all in one joke. But then I realized that’s like trying to keep an Icelandic volcano from wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress while a trapped Chilean miner cleans up the BP oil spill…Brett Favre’s penis.”

    If there were an entire book along these lines, would you read it? On the other hand, if someone read Mark Twain or Martin Amis or Tom Wolfe aloud onstage, I think people would laugh. Is literary humor therefore superior to standup comedy? (Character-based comedy writing for TV or movies is yet a third category.)

    Topics: Comedy | No Comments »

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