Celebrating the Stephen Leacock Festival and Humour in Canada
July 23, 2014
Stephen Leacock's classic story collection, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, and its fictional setting of small-town Mariposa has delighted audiences for 102 years. Before and since, Canadians have upheld a long tradition of hilarity, in whatever circumstances -- and this nationwide sense of humour is being celebrated this week at the Leacock Summer Festival in Orillia. This selection of eight side-clutching LPG titles is sure to leave you laughing.
Stephen Leacock’s classic story collection, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, and its fictional setting of small-town Mariposa has delighted audiences for 102 years. Before and since, Canadians have upheld a long tradition of hilarity, in whatever circumstances – and this nationwide sense of humour is being celebrated this week at the Leacock Summer Festival in Orillia. This selection of eight side-clutching LPG titles is sure to leave you laughing. Figure out how you’d like to be tickled (so to speak), and then go from there.
With emphasis on “spirited” – the eponymous Gladys is a ghost, met by life-stuck protagonist Frieda Zweig through a classified ad. The relationship between the two women is heartfelt, honest, and hilarious: the book won the Leacock Medal for Humour in 2013.
The superhero premise of this adorable novel, while far from reality, resonates with anyone who’s ever been in love: how to make yourself truly seen by the one you love most. This sweetly funny tale of Tom and his new wife, The Perfectionist, has even inspired real-life newlyweds: it’s been given away as wedding favours more than once.
For people who need to forget a bad game (aka Leafs fans*): Valery the Great by Elaine McCluskey (Anvil Press)
McCluskey’s collection of short stories focuses on the sports stories seldom heard: the ones about people who lost, got hurt, gave up. The author handles her sombre theme with comic mastery, finding points of light in the darkest places. *Full disclosure: this is me.
This short story collection of sharp characters in dull settings is teeming with social commentary, cruel ironies, and names like “Mayor McCheese”. Bonus: the cover will have everyone on public transit thinking you’re reading a hard-hitting political memoir.
For anyone who can laugh at machismo: Deep Too by Stan Dragland (BookThug)
Dragland’s pastiche of non-fiction stories interspersed with spam emails, raunchy limericks, film reviews, and more attacks the foundations of stereotypical masculinity with three-parts humour, one-part ferocity.
Though a number of prospective bills were lost when Canadian Parliament was prorogued in 2009, a wealth of poems were inspired instead. Together they became Rogue Stimulus, a poetry collection running the gamut from bawdy and slapstick to downright outraged.
For those looking for a little enviro-humour: The Green Shadow by Andrew Struthers (New Star Books)
Originally serialized in The Georgia Straight, this book earned Struthers a 1995 National Magazine Award for Humour. It’s no surprise: this illustrated account of life in Tofino, BC, among heated protests of a proposed logging initiative, evokes a modern-day Mariposa.
Editor Terry Mosher, also known as his Montreal Gazette pseudonym AISLIN, asks political cartoonists nation-wide for “the cartoon you have drawn to date that you would most like to be remembered for”. The resulting compendium is predictably hilarious and surprisingly incisive.
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