The joke’s on you

The fourth Laugh It Off Annual is out and proving that it's possible to find humour just about anywhere if you're looking hard enough.

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I enjoy a good laugh. What I also enjoy is reading humour that doesn’t try too hard. Nothing is more tedious then reading an article where the writer has quite obviously tried digging up every joke they know, thinking that they have done humour justice. In most cases they haven’t. So I was apprehensive when the fourth Laugh It Off Annual was dropped on my desk – after three annuals, is there really enough funny out there to fill another book?

Proven wrong, there certainly is. Laugh It Off found more than enough humour and managed to get me sniggering quite a few times. The annual features over 50 contributors, both international and South African, of which some are considered famous, semi-famous and then those that just understand comedy. Either that or they understand my seemingly peculiar sense of humour.

“Grammar Nazi” written by journalist and blogger Marelise van den Berg made me reassess my SMS language use and the careful placement of the apostrophe – something that still stumps me every now and again. Koos Kombuis’s piece “Anyone Remember Parktown Prawns?” had me lifting my feet subconsciously and later looking around for these unsightly creatures. I’ve never gone up against one before, but with my fear of cockroaches, I’d rather keep it that way.

Though, in between all the laughter, it was “Douchebag by Design”, written by GQ’s executive editor Dylan Muhlenberg, that stopped me short. Muhlenberg contributes several pieces to the annual, but this particular one ended on a rather sombre note, something unexpected and at the same quite refreshing. Combining humour and existential questioning, it makes for an interesting read without butchering the spirit of the book.

What about their signature culture jams? Laugh It Off makes certain to include a few of them because it just wouldn’t be the same without them. “The Western Nostril” also features again; the amusingly dry comic strip that launched itself out of obscurity through Laugh It Off and is now a Business Day regular.

Humour is a precarious playing field and the Laugh if Off Annual navigates it with care, making sure that there is at least one piece for every kind of humour. Although not exactly my first choice of comedy, it’s definitely worth a read – if just to take a step back and realise that even in the midst of the recession, how ridiculously funny 2009 actually was. Fun in lousy times? Definitely.