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Comedy for Kids

Jay Leno’s How to Be the Funniest Kid in the World (or just in your class)
Leno
2005, 2007

Submitter: As Librarians, we’re taught not to have our personal biases interfere with collection policy, but part of me can’t help but wonder where is the book for those of us on Team Coco? Oh, that’s right…we’re too cool to do something this corny!

I also wonder what kid under 12 years old – who would be the one browsing shelves in the children’s department versus the teen stacks – would really be fired up about entering a contest to “Win a trip to The Tonight Show”…shouldn’t they be in bed? Is his nightly monologue even appropriate or appealing to kids?! And yes, this book is still on the stacks…

The most unfortunate part of this book is one specific “Funny Friends” citation. “Funny Friends” is a small quarter page insert that occurs about every 15 pages highlighting other comedians and some of their most “notable” quotes or jokes. On page 61 he cites George Carlin’s alternate “America the Beautiful” lyrics, and considering current events, I really doubt it would get many laughs:

Oh, Beautiful
for smoggy skies,
insecticided grain,
for strip-mined mountains majesty,
above the asphalt plains.
America, America,
man sheds its waste on thee,
and hides the pines
with billboard signs,
from sea to oily sea.

(Taken from: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/23/540575/-Carlins-America-the-Beautiful)

Holly: I agree – I’m not sure Jay Leno is the right guy to be teaching kids how to be funny.  Do kids know who he is?  I doubt very many have seen The Tonight Show (let alone the drama of late night tv ).  Any kid who is excited by the contest will be sorely disappointed when he learns that it ended five years ago.  Anyway Mary and I are always going to be on Team Jimmy Kimmel.

0 Responses to Comedy for Kids

  • Before anyone says anything else, I would like everyone to know I like both Jay and Conan.

  • Why don’t we like Jay Leno?

  • The Carlin bit is ironic, I’m sure. You’re supposed to laugh darkly at the contrast between the American ideal (sea to shining sea) and the reality, “sea to oily sea.” I’m a big George Carlin fan, though, so I had to speak up in his defense. There are so many times his words come back to us like prophecy.

  • I have to say I’m a little surprised by this submission. Doesn’t seem to me to fall into the same category as the usual obvious candidates for the weed pile. Is corny now one of our criteria?

    • No, but “appropriate to the audience” is. Seriously – when is the last time you heard a kid quoting a Jay Leno monologue or saying he was their favorite, or even that they find him funny? Maybe 5 years ago he was kid material. But not now, IMHO.

  • We actually have this book in our house. Someone gave it to the kids. No, they have no idea who Jay Leno is, but the 8 year-old has read it through a couple times and laughs out loud. I’ve never actually looked at it and had no idea Carlin was in there. I might have had to censor it if I’d known. (That’s a joke.)

  • As much as I hate Jay, I would’ve loved this book as a kid. Most kids know who Jay Leno is, especially the kids who would find this book appealing. Hell, I know who Steve Allen was when I was 12.

    And the Carlin bit is funny BECAUSE of current events. Humor can have a point.

  • I never liked Conan. I thought he was over rated. Same with Letterman.

    As for Jay – he’s okay. But man, I miss Johnny Carson.

  • I have an audio copy of that Carlin bit. It makes me laugh – but reading it is much less funny than hearing Carlin sing/yell/growl it. Every time I hear it, I’m amazed that it’s from 1972.

  • Books with contests advertised are unfortunate, for they date the book in a hurry. If I were to keep it, I’d probably have to see if the content was appropriate for my school. Btw, I’m a fan of Team Coco.

  • Kathy: More like “horribly mis-aimed”. Leno’s demographic has grandchildren, who probably got this book as a gift. As a vaguely dissatisfying Christmas present, it has an economic place on the bookstore shelf along with other Grandparent Gifts like High School Musical toothbrush sets, but it’s kinda inappropriate for a library where the kids would be making their own selections. 🙂

  • http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6728690.html – that’s why I would weed Jay Leno–for his cruel jokes about libraries being closed and librarians being laid off!

    We have this book at our library, and the kids like the jokes even if they don’t know or love Leno. So I wouldn’t actually weed it.

  • Have most kids heard of the author of most books they read? I think the point is that this book is actually supposed to be funny, because Jay Leno wrote it. No, he’s not the most hilarious guy on TV, but he’s not bad. If I’m shopping for a joke book for a kid’s present, I might buy her that book not because of how excited she’ll get about Leno, but because he’s got credibility with me. And, according to Retro Hound, the book is laugh out loud funny — rare among most kid’s humor books.

  • I hate Jay Leno. I like Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel, and David Letterman.

  • Personally, I think the best comedian ever is Jerry Seinfeld.

  • The elementary school library where I volunteer has a copy of this book, and it’s probably the most popular humor book they have on the shelves. Every week I watch it get checked out by a new kid, and kids ask me specifically for it and are disappointed if it’s not in. I don’t think the copy the library has has the blurb about the contest on the cover, and thank goodness, because I would probably get questions about it from the kids.

  • Leave it to Jay Leno to put out a comedy book,he most likely does not even write his own material,and has a large group of people who write for him. Plus he’s not funny,he’s just plain safe,and boring…

  • This one was so popular among my students that I lost 2 copies in the first year I had it. It was a cheapie from the Scholastic Book Fair, or I wouldn’t have picked it up at all (thinking of Jay as others do – I’m a Craig Ferguson watcher myself). I was startled by the popularity. It’s a great title, though – and the jokes aren’t any worse than the other joke books we’ve got.

  • Wow, teachers would LOVE their students to read this.

  • I have this book in my classroom and it is frequently being read by the students. They think it is funny even though they don’t have any clue who Jay Leno is and they love to come and tell me the jokes they learn from it. All of the jokes they tell me are appropriate and at least somewhat funny. It is really not weeding material in my opinion 🙂

  • It’s just amazing they fit his whole CHIN on the cover.