I posted a review on Lulu, but because of a character restriction, the entire thing couldn't be posted there (they even count the html code!).
So here is the unedited review:
That Reminds Me: Finding the Funny in a Serious World
By Michael Close
Reviewed by Dustin Stinett
Im not sure if I have ever come across a book so aptly titled, regardless of subject. This joke book is more that just a book of jokes. Its an endearing work that transports your mindand soul if you so believeto a better place; if only for the time you spend reading it. And these days, every minute helps.
That Reminds Me reminds me of a time when being offended was something one just dealt with versus hiring an attorney over and/or numbing ourselves with the latest pharmaceutical breakthrough. Heritage, race, religion, physical appearance, whatever could be joked about was joked about and we all laughed because everyone of us fell into one or more of the categories covered by these jokes; no one was left out.
For me, that period was the 1970s and every local drug store had a spinner-rack filled with Official joke books. There was, of course, the Official Polish Joke Book; Im sure the big seller of the series. And there were also Jewish, Irish, and my personal favorite (because of my heritage) Italian versions and many others. I really believe in my heart that these best-selling books helped America get past Watergate and Viet Nam. We all laughed again at something other than Bob Hope Christmas Specials from Saigon. Well, its time America laughs again and That Reminds Me is a prescription you dont need a pharmacist to fill.
Michael Close is a multi-talented professional entertainer. He is a world-class magician, jazz pianist, and is one of the funniest people Ive seen on the stage (although I dont believe he would ever call himself a comedian). For decades, he has been compiling jokes, including old chestnuts hes returned to relevance, jokes written by his many very funny friends, as well as original material he has used himself or has passed on to friends to use because he knew it would work well for them. This book contains many of those jokes that he has collected over the years. But again, its not just a collection of jokes. As he says in the book, they are jokes that he has a personal relationship with. But even if that is all this book wasa collection of jokesit would be prescribed reading. But thats not quite good enough for Michael Close.
Mr. Close is a man who puts more thought into his work than anyone I have ever met. More importantly, he also has the ability to explain that thinking to those lucky enough to fall under his tutelage. He teacheswithout preaching I should addso his students (for lack of a better word) become better at delivering the material he teaches them or, better still, the material they have created because they have discovered their own process through studying Michaels. And, even with that included, this joke book goes even further.
Most of the chapters in That Reminds Me center on Mr. Closes friends. He weaves stories about these people, all the while being reminded of even more jokes that fit the current themehis method for recalling jokes. The names, such as Jay Marshall, Eric Mead, Billy McComb, Chuck Fayne, and Michael Bryant will not be familiar at all to the average person. Magicians will be familiar with many of the names, but not all have met these men. Michael Close introduces you to them and his stories captivate you so that personal acquaintance, while certainly helpful, is not at all necessary to bring tearsusually of laughterto the eyes. Regardless of whom these men are and what they do (or did), Mr. Close brings you into part of the world that he shared with them. These are brief visits to be sure, but he makes you want to meet those you still can and wish that you could have met those you no longer can.
Jokes are funny because people are funny; what they are, what they do, what they say, what they look like. Some of us are fatjust the other day I got on one of those fortune telling scales and the little card said one at a time pleasesome of us are Italian, or Polish (like Mr. Close), or golfers, musicians, magicians, blond, black, or brown, smart or stupid. Every person on this planet falls somewhere into a category that can be joked about: Its not cruel or offensive to tell a joke about these characteristics. Its not cruel or offensive to tell a joke about someones religion. Watch the evening news and youll see real offensiveness and cruelty in action. But better yet, forget about the days news, pick up a copy of That Reminds Me and remind yourself that its time to have a good laugh.