No Hang Ups—funny answering machine messages

ansaphone picThis is a paperback published in California and written by two American stand up comedians, John Carfi and Cliff Carle, of ‘ funny ‘ messages that could be left on answering machines. It appeared in 1983, which means that quite a few of the jokes might not be acceptable in the more PC climate of 2018.

Hi, JANE here. Before you leave your message, I just want to mention that a friend of mine who lives in New York had to go to a specialist in San Francisco for a heart transplant. He just got back today—now there’s a guy who really “ left his heart in San Francisco!”


Hello. This is JOHN’s residence. I’m out fixing my wife’s car. There’s about a hundred things wrong with it —whenever she was driving and heard a strange noise, she just turned up the radio.



Hi, this is JOHN. I’m playing golf again. I went yesterday for my first time and played with these so-called ‘ pros!’. After 18 holes, they scored in the low 70’s. You call that professional? It only took me 3 holes to score 70!




Hi, I’m at the gym lifting weights. Hey, I’m getting pretty strong! I’ve been at it only a month and already I can tear a telephone billin half! Continue reading

Blurb – the beginnings

The American humourist and illustrator Gelett Burgess is not much known in the UK. However, his very witty take on clichés and platitudes, Are You a Bromide ? (1907), deserves a place in the pantheon of classic US humour. Not only does it differentiate between Bromides and Sulphites—the former referring to someone set in their ways who uses trite sayings, while the latter are original thinkers with perceptive things to say, but it spawned the term ‘blurb’, which, of course, is still used today to describe a publisher’s puff for a new work.

The problem is that this word only appeared on the dust-jacket of Burgess’s book, which meant that—dust-jackets being discarded back then, as they still are, by all types of libraries, but not, thank goodness, by dealers—the term probably didn’t catch on as quickly as it should have done. And if it hadn’t been for scholars of book history, like dust-jacket supremo, Thomas Tanselle, the wrapper for Are You a Bromide might never have been brought into the light of day. Certainly, it was more innovative and amusing than most of this period. While the typical wrapper might   feature a slightly modified reproduction of the title page, with perhaps some modest art work, Burgess’s is more like an advertising poster for the book. Hence it demonstrates precisely what a ‘blurb‘ was by giving an example of it. Clever stuff! [R.R.]

The MP’s Chart 1964 (Andrew Roth)

Andrew Roth

The left leaning American-born political satirist Andrew Roth (1919 – 2010) produced these handy guides to the Commons personnel from 1955 and this particular issue, which seems to have been hurriedly hammered out on an electric typewriter (it is full of typos) is interesting in that it includes the first long-term Labour cabinet for over a decade and also a few MPs who became prominent in subsequent Tory administrations and who ended up being elevated to the Upper House. It also has something to say on a certain recently departed former PM, then a little known Tory backbencher of some 5 years standing.

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