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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 13 November 2011

Mariella Frostrup embarks on her celebration of funny books, funny writers and the much under-rated virtues of laughter-inducing literature. She begins her search for Open Book's Funniest Book and asks listeners to nominate the book they'd recommend to put a smile back on people's faces.

In the five Open Books leading up to Xmas, listeners can hear a mini history of funny humour, when Mariella, with the help of academic John Mullen romps through centuries of comic writing. Joining them this week will be Terry Jones on Chaucer. (Coming up are Fiona Shaw on Shakespeare, Jenny Uglow on the 18th century, Roy Hattersley on the 19th century and Ronald Harwood on the 20th century

Mariella will also invite listeners to join her for Open Book's Funniest Book Balloon debate, happening in the Radio Theatre (rec. Dec 8/ tx in an OB special on Dec 24). She'll be joined by Jo Brand, Tony Parsons, A L Kennedy and John Sessions amongst other as they try to convince the audience that their book is the most consistently rewarding funny read.

Their choices are -
TONY PARSONS - The Virgin Soldiers/ Leslie Thomas
A L KENNEDY - The Loved One/ Evelyn Waugh
JOHN SESSIONS - 1066 And All That/ W C Sellar & R J Yeatman
JO BRAND - A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian/ Marina Lewycka

Each week our panel will take it in turns to come onto the programme to tell us more about their funny writer and give a bit of background to their lives.

  • Open Book's Funniest Book: John Sessions

    1066 and All That by W.C. Sellar and R J Yeatman

  • Open Book's Mini History of Comic Writing

    Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary by Terry Jones
    Who Murdered Chaucer by Terry Jones
    Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer published by Penguin Classics
    Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer
    Canterbury Tales audiobook translated by J U Nicholson

  • Penelope Lively

    How It All Began published by Fig Tree Press
    Moon Tiger published by Penguin Modern Classic


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    Books and Authors

    This podcast features Open Book and A Good Read. In Open Book, Mariella Frostrup talks to leading…

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