In trying to push my latest novelette, I couldn’t help but notice just how many other indy writers have been struggling to do the same thing. Each and every one of us are fighting for reviews, sales, and overall doing everything we can think of to get our stories into readers hands. We post in forums. We tweet. We set up Facebook and Goodreads pages. Many of us with only limited success. I won’t lie. Some of us could use better editors. Some of us probably shouldn’t quit our day jobs. But for every one of those writers, amongst the flooding market of self publishing authors, there are some who are truly talented and deserve some recognition. I don’t know if this will be a regular feature in my blog, or just an occasional effort. I’ll have to see how things work out next semester juggling work and school. But for today, I’m at home, quarantining myself to bed while fighting off a bad cold. I’ve decided to pick a random book advertised in the many forums I read and post a review for it. If possible, I’d like to do this once a week, and only for shorter, self published books. Novelettes and novellas. Anything cheap or free that I can finish reading within an hour or two. I’m sure when a few writers notice a new site posting reviews (Amazon recently forbid indy writers from posting reviews for each other) they’ll be enticed to send submissions. I’m just going to go ahead and ask you to please not do that. For at least the time being, I’ll be selecting books at random. For example, how much more random can you get than by doing my first review of a joke book by Frida Malone. 100 Jolly Jokes For All Occasions, published today and available for free on Amazon. At least at the time of my writing this review. Eventually the price will go up to a $1.49. My criteria for picking the book was simply that it was free, there, and wouldn’t take me long to read. I had actually been thinking fantasy, but as one of the last indy books I finished was The Vacant Forge by Darrin Drader, I still have a bad taste in my mouth for the genre. So, sick in bed, who couldn’t use a couple of good laughs? Let’s find out if Frida Malone was successful:
When I was a kid, my brothers and I had a small collection of joke books. Ours were not quite a tasteful as Frida Malone’s. Each of our books promised to be some of the dirtiest, raunchiest, uncensored humor you could find. And for us being kids of the eighties, before the Internet and today’s typical cable TV show, the jokes were pretty shocking. Some of them even involved farts and intercourse.
I think one of them even used the word intercourse.
So, yes, the filthiest and deprived humor of my childhood would blush at an episode of Family Guy or anything you can find on Youtube. But still, we had these joke books. We felt pretty rebellious in having them. And all the way back then, I remember a sort of prevailing question. Where did these jokes come from? Were they of the author’s own invention? Were they jokes he just heard and assembled together? Maybe everybody I knew had books like these stashed away at home and secretly memorized and rehearsed them in front of a mirror. When I sat down with Frida Malone’s 100 joke collection, that was a question I had in mind.
In terms of actual content, you get exactly what’s advertised. A hundred jokes. Really 101, but I’ll leave that to the editing and formatting section of the review. Malone makes a point not to publish indecent humor, and I’m certain my review is going to end up being raunchier than anything featured in the book itself. There wasn’t a single joke in here I wouldn’t feel comfortable reiterating to my grandmother. Granted, my grandmother once introduced herself to a girl I’d been dating at knifepoint, so instead I’ll say that there isn’t a single joke in here I wouldn’t feel comfortable reiterating to your grandmother. There was one joke about a wife making out with a few guys to help pay the bills, but that’s as far as it got sexually. By contrast in terms of violence, the very first joke, one you can definitely read for free if you sample the book goes as follows:
During a bank robbery, the robber kept several people hostage. He asked the first one, “Did you see me rob the bank?”
“Yes,” the man answered.
The robber pulled his gun and shot him in the head. He then went to a couple and asked the man, “Did you see me rob the bank?”
“No, but my mother-in-law saw it all.”
That is the pinnacle of violence in the book and everything else is roughly as tame. Overall, most the jokes are similar in format, and most as mildly amusing. There were a couple of duds. A few I’d heard variations of before. One joke I’m pretty sure was a line ripped straight from Kung Fu Panda and felt completely out of place given the rest of the humor. “Today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.” That’s not even a punchline, really. Just whimsical. And although I’m sure the saying goes back much further than the movie, I felt suspicious the author just found this version online and retold it here. Which brings me back to the question of whether these jokes are original pieces or found from previous sources. Although I didn’t know a lot of the jokes, there were a few that I recalled at least some variation of. Maybe the punchline was different (tamed down in two cases). Sometimes the set up was new with a punchline I’d heard. To double check on this, I type the openings of several random jokes in Google, and every times I was able to stumble onto websites or forums with at least highly similar jokes. So it seems unlikely you discover anything completely original here. Either these were all jokes Malone had heard before and rewrote them all to fit a certain format, or it’s a simple cut and paste job. But who knows? Maybe these are jokes Malone has been telling for years and just recently decided to put them together in one collection.
Yeah, that’s felt pretty unlikely to me too.
Given that I was able to download the book for free, I didn’t mind this. If asked to pay money, I’d hope the humor was entirely original. But this is the first joke book I’ve looked at since I was a little kid. Maybe that’s the standard practice. There’s nothing here to really make it stand out over the books I read as a kid, but it’s still a hundred jokes. Overall, given what the material is, there were plenty of light chuckles to be had. I can’t be sure if Malone handpicked these as the best 100 puns of the Internet or whatever, but I laughed a few times and at least smiled at others. If you’re in the mood for jokes and you can get the book for free or don’t want to wade through a million websites to find some mostly family friendly humor, this is a quick, light read. You’ll find something witty to say the next time you’re invited to an office party.
Editing and Formatting
I only noticed one major error in the book. Joke 40 has two jokes stuck together with no space between them. So I guess technically you’re getting 101 jokes, but it took me a second to realize I’d just read the punchline of one and was well into another. It kind of surprises me the author didn’t notice this given the finite amount of material, and it lends weight to the idea that this may just be a cut and paste job.
Apart from that, the jokes are listed 1-100 with no index or categorical arrangement. The spacing and formatting was just fine. Given that the book is on the Kindle, I wouldn’t have minded if the author had taken the extra time to include a page break between each of the jokes or indexed them in some way. There were a lot of marriage jokes and a plenty of jokes featuring a little boy named Joie, so why not lump them together by theme? There’s nothing wrong with the arrangement and presentation. For a hundred jokes and fifteen minutes to read through them, the book is perfectly enjoyable. I just think the author could take advantage of format and give a slicker presentation next time.
I found the book through a thread on the Kindleboards stating that it was free today for having just been published. Assuming there will be a tomorrow, future readers will be asked to pay $1.49 for the joke collection. Given that it’s only a hundred jokes, I’d feel better about a 99¢ price point, but out of curiosity I did a search on Amazon for other joke books available on the Kindle and discovered a lot of them with similar content were priced around $2.99. So I suppose it’s competitively priced. Personally, if the book hadn’t been free, I probably would’ve ignored the thread in favor of doing a random joke search on Google. Of course that search likely would’ve turned up a pile of dead baby sex jokes chock full of chainsaws and bestiality. Much more to my sense of humor, but if you’re in the market for some laughs with only a few mildly racy themes, this is a pretty safe bet.
Overall, I’m going to give 100 Jolly Jokes for all Occasions 2½ stars out of five. It’s a competent, mostly family friendly joke book. There’s nothing original and the humor is broad, but even then there are some laughs to be had.