THE BEST OF MODERN HUMOR
Edited by Mordecai Richler
Knopf; 400 pages; $17.95
Dying is easy," said Actor Edmund Gwenn at the end of his life. "Comedy is difficult." Perhaps that is why so many writers shun the genre. But there is a more salient reason. As Woody Allen sadly observes, "When you do comedy, you are not sitting at the grownups' table."
In this rich compendium, Novelist Mordecai Richler attempts to lift humorists out of the high chair and onto the Louis Quinze. He ransacks old collections and ranges through the century, from Stephen...