Isaac Asimov, the prolific and perennially bestselling author, is most famous for his science fiction, but among friends and colleagues he‘s beloved as a wit and raconteur.

Asimov Laughs Againis a collection of his most hilarious original and borrowed comic material, delivered in his own lighthearted and personable manner. The jokes run the gamut from the very best dinner-party humor to quips about lawyers and agents to playful barbs at celebrities such as Ernest Borgnine, Richard Nixon, Billy Graham, and Sophia Loren. Celebrities also contribute jokes: Yogi Berra, Jack Benny, Peter O’Toole, and many others are quoted at their funniest and most candid. A wealth of limericks (some risqué)—for which Asimov is justly infamous—also grace this treasury.

Asimov explains the nuances of joke-telling—what makes the material funny and why, how to use accents for the most comic effect, and how to choose a joke to fit your audience. He discusses his philosophy of joke-telling and how his own quick tongue has put him in some interesting and tight situations over the years.

Whether you need a joke for a particular occasion or want a good laugh, you’ll find Asimov Laughs Againthe perfect source.

Although another joke book like and ostensibly a sequel to Isaac Asimov’s Treasury of Humor, this is nonetheless a vastly different book. For one thing, it didn’t seem quiteas funny—there is more an air of melancholia about it than there is the earlier book. It is more overtly autobiographical, too—Asimov spends more time talking about his family and the people around him. Unlike many of Asimov’s later books, it has an index, but it would appear that the index was notprepared by Asimov himself, since it’s keyed to page number and not joke number (as was the index to Isaac Asimov’s Treasury of Humor). And the book isn’t divided into sections, as was the earlier book (at Houghton Mifflin’s insistence). Rather, it’s just a long joke-telling session.

And it’s written by a man who knew that death was near. I. Asimov: A Memoirwas written two years before Asimov actually died, and although he knew death was not very far off, he was still tolerably healthy when the book was prepared. (I still don’t know why its publication was delayed for three years.) Asimov Laughs Again, however, was prepared in the final months of Asimov’s life, and is one of the very last substantial books he worked on, and the last to be in any way autobiographical. As with the ending of Forward the Foundation, then, the ending here is particularly poignant: He talks about his life, about Janet, and says: “No matter what happens to me now, it’s been a good life, and I am satisfied with it.”

And, of course, Asimov Laughs Againwas the last book the Good Doctor saw published before his death. For the Asimov fan, then, it has deeper meaning than it otherwise would and becomes more necessary to own than it otherwise would.

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