Help is here to start 2021 with a smile
Whether it’s an anthology of jokes, a humorous caper or a fun-filled calendar, start 2021 with a clean slate and a good laugh.
Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld, 480 pages, Simon & Schuster hardcover, 2020
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld shares his 45-year compilation of routines arranged by decade and topic. No muddling through a memoir, no soul-searching prose. No politics or character assassinations and (mostly) good, clean entertainment.
And no revelations about his personal life unless they’re fodder for a great punchline.
Whether Seinfeld’s targets are the foibles of society, the quirks of contemporary life, the dating scene, marriage, parenthood or aging parents, readers will find themselves chuckling.
Follow Jerry’s scenarios to their humorous denouements. He’s adept at his craft.
Each of the five chapters represents a decade of Seinfeld’s career, and begins with a contemporaneous depiction of the comic. What follows are lists of hundreds of his routines verbatim under subject headings.
Seinfeld does reveal, in passing, a few tantalizing tidbits. His first and only love is stand-up comedy performed before a live audience. He has never employed writers. The comedian jots all his jokes on yellow legal pads and stores them in accordion manila folders.
Now in his mid-60s, Seinfeld is perhaps mellower but still sharp-witted, with a finger on the pulse of modern times. Laugh out loud, smile or nod knowingly as you turn the pages.
Squeeze Me: A Novel, by Carl Hiaasen, 352 pages, Knopf hardcover, 2020
Twice-widowed Katherine Pew Fitzimmmons, a 72-year-old winter resident of Palm Beach, disappears during a formal charity dinner at the posh, exclusive estate, Lipid House.
She was wearing expensive jewelry, was undoubtedly intoxicated and may have ingested half a pill of the drug ecstasy. Security cameras show no footage of her leaving the grounds. At the corner of the property, one of her shoes was found near the koi pond. It’s been dredged and searched twice by police divers, to no avail.
Squeeze Me tracks the clues and identifies a plethora of outlandish suspects, tipsters and informants. This comic crime novel skewers seniors who lavish their fortunes on mansions, luxury cars, designer clothing, jewelry, cosmetic enhancements and the pursuit of young companions in order to recapture their youth.
Most of the action takes place in the shadow of the Winter White House, Casa Bellicosa. The Trumps, the idle rich and their lifestyles, the documented and undocumented immigrants who serve them, the criminals and fraudsters seeking to rip off the affluent, the bars and clubs they frequent — all are targets of Carl Hiaasen. Although serious issues in the news are touched upon, they don’t dampen the book’s high spirits.
Hiaasen, who is in his late 60s, is a reporter who turned prolific humor novelist. The surname may be familiar for another reason: His only brother, Rob, an editor and columnist at The Capital, was killed in the mass shooting at the paper’s Annapolis office in 2018.
This is Carl’s first book since the tragedy. It’s comforting to find him producing a breezy, carefree farce.
Hiaasen writes, “One way of surviving the torrent of grim news is to distract yourself with something funny, if you can find it.” Advice to heed in the new year.
Garfield 2021 Day-to-Day Calendar, by Jim Davis; Carbe Diem: A 2021 Punny-A-Day Calendar, by @rockdoodles, Julia Rockowitz; Unspirational 2021 Day-to-Day Calendar: Everything Happens for No Reason, by Elan Gale, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Start each day with a smile, guffaw or belly laugh with one of these fun desk calendars. Whether you choose the wisecracking, know-it-all cartoon feline, an illustrated pun to prod your funny bone, or a realistic takedown of hokey, inspirational highfalutin’ thoughts — one of these day-to-day calendars fills the bill.
The Garfield and Punny calendars include trivia on the back of each page. Unspirational leaves the most room for notes. All three calendars are gift-boxed and presented in a recyclable plastic tray with an easel backing that can be propped up.
There’s no better way to welcome each day of 2021 than with a hearty laugh.