Book Reviews From 2016

So, Anyway… (book review)

So AnywayGood comedy is something which is appreciated by nearly everyone. A comedian who can make us laugh, or think, or think while we’re laughing, is in limited company. But have you ever wondered how a comedian formulates his or her comedy? In So, Anyway… we get some comedic insight from the very talented John Cleese.

I’ll admit it: I am fan of Monty Python. Their offbeat humor is brilliant in the way they capture a side of life that goes mostly unnoticed. One of the pillars of Monty Python is John Cleese. John has a physical presence that can make you laugh, an intelligence that is lightning-fast, and an ability to use the Queen’s English to draw out nuanced comedy unlike few I’ve heard. But, again, I was always intrigued by that nagging question: How did he get to be so funny? Was he born with a “comedic gene”? Were his parents comical? Is good comedy something that can be learned?

As I read his delightful memoir So Anyways… I discovered the answer was “yes” to all of the above. John looks back on his life in a prescient way that allows the reader to see all of the ingredients that go into making a world-class comedian. Is there such a thing as a “comedic gene”? If there is, John was probably born with it. Were his parents odd? They were probably considered “normal” people (but, what is “normal”?). And along the way John definitely learned what was funny and what wasn’t, and used that to his advantage.

Throughout this memoir you will see John’s comedic routines interspersed in the story of his life. You will discover the “seeds” that blossomed in a particular character or paradigm or comedy routine. You will meet the people, places, and experiences that John leveraged as he discovered what makes people throughout the English-speaking world laugh. Anyone interested in how comedy is birthed and nurtured will love seeing comedy develop through the life of John Cleese.

I am a Three Rivers Press book reviewer.

Book Reviews From 2015

Links & Quotes

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“The issue is not how much a person makes. Big industry and big salaries are a fact of our times, and they are not necessarily evil. The evil is in being deceived into thinking a six-digit salary must be accompanied by a six-digit lifestyle. God has made us to be conduits of His grace. The danger is in thinking the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn’t. Copper will do. Copper can carry unbelievable riches to others.” —John Piper

“I would prefer to combat the ‘I’m special’ feeling not by the thought ‘I’m no more special than anyone else’ but by the feeling ‘Everyone is as special as me.’ In one way there is no difference, I grant, for both remove the speciality. But there is a difference in another way. The first might lead you to think, ‘I’m only one of the crowd like anyone else.’ But the second leads to the truth that there isn’t any crowd. No one is like anyone else. All are ‘members’ (organs) in the Body of Christ. All different and all necessary to the whole and to one another: each loved by God individually, as if it were the only creature in existence. Otherwise you might get the idea that God is like the government which can only deal with the people in the mass.” —C.S. Lewis

“Life will always bring challenges. But God will always give strength to face them.” Read more encouraging words from Max Lucado’s post Here’s What You Need To Know.

Seth Godin started writing about too much salt, but he took it somewhere I wasn’t expecting. Wow!

Ryan Shelton talks about the benefit of gathering together with other people at church: Godward Together On Sunday Morning. By the way, if you are looking for a “Godward together” church in West Michigan, I ♥ Calvary Assembly of God!

Glad to see my home state is trying to ban the gruesome practice of abortion by dismemberment.

[VIDEO] Ken Davis knows something cool (and unique) about Michiganders—

Links & Quotes

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“The time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.” —George MacDonald

David Wilkerson has some encouraging words for those in a dark place: “When we’re in the midst of a trial, we must get our eyes off our troubles. In just such times, we need to encourage ourselves, saying, ‘My God can do anything—and He hasn’t forgotten me. He has His eyes on me right now….’” Read more of his post on trusting God here.

And Max Lucado remind us, “We need to know that God is near. We are never alone. In our darkest hour, in our deepest questions, the Lord never leaves us!” Read the rest of his post He Is In Charge.

J. Warner Wallace shares yet another way the existence of consciousness demonstrates the existence of God.

Alan Shlemon tackles a heavy question with some sage advice: Should same-sex attracted Christian men be in a platonic relationship?

Tim Elmore writes, “Our society today unwittingly encourages our kids to simply ‘blend in’—to do what’s asked of you, but only what’s asked of you. In fact, we condition them to do the bare minimum requirement to get by, to look for loopholes and shortcuts. As a result, too many of our gifted young athletes, academicians, and other performers carry this ‘good enough’ mindset with them. They are fine with being ‘average.’” Read the rest of Tim’s post here, and check out a poem I shared earlier about being average.

[VIDEO] Ken Davis always cracks me up—

Party Conversations

Brian ReganHere is Brian Regan at his best! There are some valuable social lessons here…

Diary Of A Jackwagon (book review)

Diary of a JackwagonI’m a huge Tim Hawkins fan! He proves time and time again that you don’t have to be crass to be funny, but that intelligent insights are perhaps a bigger laugh than the base stuff. So I was really looking forward to reading Diary Of A Jackwagon.

This book, Tim explains, is like his personal journal of observations. So you get a little insight into his craft. Indeed it was fascinating to read some of the seed thoughts that became a bit in his public comedic routine.

When J.C. Ryle was writing a biography on George Whitefield, he noted that there was a huge difference between hearing a sermon and reading a sermon. I felt the same about this book. Tim Hawkins uses his voice inflections, facial expressions, singing and musical abilities, and body contortions to create a full comedic experience for the viewer. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate over very well to the reader. So if you already know who Tim Hawkins is, please read this book and enjoy. However, if you’ve not had the pleasure of seeing Tim’s comedy routine, please pull up some YouTube videos before reading this book. Trust me: it will be much more enjoyable this way.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

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