Tough Daisies

Kansas Humor from "The Lane County Bachelor" to Bob Dole

C. Robert Haywood

By reputation, Kansas isn't the funniest place on earth. But it has its share of humor. It can boast of politicians who taunted puritan farmers with "raise less corn and more hell," a gubernatorial candidate whose claim to fame was perfecting and marketing a goat-gland transplant for men desperate to restore their sexual vigor, and a legendary attorney general who covertly flew the friendly skies of Kansas in hot pursuit of illegal liquor consumption on passenger planes.

In Tough Daisies, Robert Haywood reveals the lighter side of a state that's too often pegged a collection of sober-minded moralists struggling to find Utopia among the stars. He explores what has passed for humor in good times and bad and divulges what makes Kansans laugh. Both the subject of laughter (the inspiration) and the humorist (the inspired) are featured in this serious study (most of the time) of a funny subject.

“The book is indeed delightful,. But it is also informative and thought provoking.

—Great Plains Quarterly

“The author has done a fine job of searching the archives and library shelves for material on or containing Kansas humor: tall tales, dark humor, practical jokes, mimical parody, cherished indignations, and the wit and wisdom of homesteaders, cowboys, and townspeople, some of it as dray as the climate. Not only the words, but also the visual images are preserved, described, and analyzed.

—Western Historical Quarterly
See all reviews...

An annotated sampler of jokes, stories, cartoons, and poems, this book illustrates what Kansans have chuckled and chortled at from settlement days to the present. Especially rich veins of humor are found in the frontier experience, the Great Depression, Populism, and politics. Investigating an array of rib-tickling facets of Kansas life, Haywood also illuminates the wit, sarcasm, and satire generated by grasshoppers, flat land, farmers and their daughters, war, bootleggers, school teachers, preachers, droughts, tornadoes—and Toto too.

About the Author

C. Robert Haywood, a third-generation Kansan, is professor of history emeritus at Washburn University. He is author of several books including Victorian West: Class and Culture in Kansas Cattle Towns and Trails South: Wagon-Road Economy in the Dodge City-Panhandle Region.