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****Not So Funny When It Happened

The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure

edited by Tim Cahill

Reviewed May 7, 2004.
Travelers’ Tales, San Francisco, 2000.  207 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (910 NOT).

This is a collection of hilarious stories about traveling, absolutely perfect for a 10-hour plane trip to Oregon.  I have to admit that some of the stories are a little bit lacking in taste, but they are all tremendously funny.

Some of my favorite humor writers are here:  Dave Barry, Bill Bryson, and Anne Lamott.  But there are many more that I had never heard of, and all selections are pretty consistently funny.  Of course, I could have done without the one about the flight attendant being vomited on by a little kid, but I managed to read it and laugh instead of getting nauseous.

I liked Dave Barry’s essay about Ireland, especially this paragraph:  “You definitely feel welcome in Ireland.  But there’s more to do there than just talk to Irish people in pubs.  You can also drive around the countryside, alternately remarking ‘Look!  Sheep!’ and ‘Here’s another tractor!’  You can visit a bunch of old castles built by the Normans, who at one point conquered Ireland despite being called the ‘Normans,’ which is, let’s face it, not an impressive-sounding name.  It’s kind of like being conquered by the ‘Freds.’”

I liked the story by Nicholas Delbanco about how he and his wife tried to introduce April Fool’s Day to some French people and their guests were too polite to do anything but eat the bad food with a straight face.

Douglas Adams discusses a transit lounge in Tanzania where only Tanzanian currency is accepted but no one who comes there ever has Tanzanian currency so the attendant passes her time watching flies.  David Sedaris discusses trying to explain Christmas using only rudimentary French to Muslim students in the class, leading to a discussion of Easter and the Easter bunny, which even the French teacher hadn’t heard of.

All in all, this book will remind you that it’s a wonderful, crazy, and hilarious world out there.

Review of another collection of travel humor by the same publisher:
There's No Toilet Paper . . . on the Road Less Traveled

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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