Monday's book; Because I Tell a Joke or Two Stephen Wagg (editor) Routledge, pounds 12.99
Two highlights are the contributions by C P Lee, formerly of the band Alberto y Los Trios Paranoios, now a star turn in the media department at Salford University. One is an exploration of the "empowering" verbal fireworks of the Marx Brothers, the other an appreciation of Frank Randall, regarded by many (including George Melly) as the great forgotten comic genius of this century. Wonderfully vulgar, Randall revelled in dangerously anarchic mayhem, continually alarming the authorities. He burned down a hotel where he received bad service, fired a revolver at an annoying extra on a film set and bombarded Blackpool with toilet rolls from a hired plane after a conviction for obscenity. (The patter that caused such grave offence included the line: "There's a flea loose in the harem and the favourite will have to be scratched.")
Not all contributions are as celebratory. Laraine Porter sets the tone for her angry investigation into female comic stereotypes with its unfortunate title: "Tarts, Tampons and Tyrants". However, there is no denying her perception that the stereotypical "giggly, busty blonde" of British comedy conforms to "rigid, male-defined images of gravity-defying physical perfection". Meanwhile, the likes of Sid James "can sport a face like a bag of spanners and still represent male desirability".
Frances Williams offers a feisty exploration of lesbian comics, though her attempt to conscript Absolutely Fabulous to the gay cause is unpersuasive. Similarly, Mark Simpson's insistence that "Morecambe and Wise exhibited more signifiers of homosexuality than a Soho queer pub" fails to recognise the duo's child-like otherworldliness.
It is unfortunate that the editor ascribes the cliched axiom "No one can ever be too thin or too rich" to the Duchess of Windsor. It was coined by the New York style queen Diana Vreeland.
Life & Style blogs
KickAssTorrents down: biggest file-sharing site moves to .cr domain after takedowns
Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
Watch teenager Collin Burns break the Rubik's Cube world record by solving puzzle in just 5.25 seconds
'Are you beach body ready?' backlash: Protein World boss labels feminist campaigners 'terrorists'
The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 Stephen Hawking endorses Labour in the General Election
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...