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 QuarterlySee all reviews...
“Those who know Kansas will agree this is a good book. And those who think they do not know Kansas but have interest in regional history and American humor can learn a lot.”
“Haywood’s sampler of Kansas humor from various eras, including tall tales, songs, poems, and cartoons, is an informative and entertaining book that will delight general readers and social historians.”
—Annals of Iowa
“Much more than a mere anthology of regional humor, Haywood’s volume provides a rich compendium of Kansan lore and an insightful investigation into the character of a state riddled with the same contradictions that underlie the American experience.”
“Kansans have endured because of their humor, and Bob Haywood captures this often ignored side of their state in this delightful book. He chronicles Kansas humor from frontier days, when people struggling to survive made fun about it, to modern times when Kansans joke about keeping what passes for civilization at arm's length. This is must reading!”
—David Dary, author of True Tales of Old-Time Kansas and More True Tales of Old-Time Kansas
“Until now no one has attempted to come to grips with this bundle of contradictions known as Kansas through an analysis of what makes us laugh-or causes others to laugh at us. Like the Kansas character itself, Kansas humor tends to be understated and self-deprecating, but insightful and resilient.”
—Jim Hoy, coauthor of Plains Folk: A Commonplace of the Great PlainsSee fewer 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.