‘To write a book is hard; to write a funny book is harder; to write a funny book both wise and funny is the prerogative of Mr. Mikes’ The Times
If you want to succeed here you must be able to handle the English sense of humour.
So proclaims George Mikes’ timeless exploration of this curious phenomenon. Whether it’s understatement, self-deprecation or plain cruelty, the three elements he identifies as essential to our sense of humour, being witty here is a way of life.
Perfectly placed as an adopted Englishman himself, Mikes delivers his shrewd advice – helpfully divided into ‘Theory’ and ‘Practice’ – with a comic precision that does his chosen country proud. Drawing on a trove of examples from our rich comic canon, from Orwell (“Every joke is a tiny revolution”) to Oscar Wilde, this is the essential handbook for natives and foreigners alike.
Mrs Kennedy: “I don’t think, Mr Churchill, that I have told you anything about my grandchildren.”
Winston Churchill: “For which, madam, I am infinitely grateful.”