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Funny Books - The Laugh Makers

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The Laugh Makers
Robert L. Mills
BearManor Media 2009
368 pages with numerous photographs

The Laugh Makers, A Behind-the -Scenes Tribute to Hope's Incredible Gag Writers by Robert L. Mills is an excellent read. This book is part Bob Hope biography and part story of American comedy and TV comedy specials. The Laugh Makers contains many black and white photographs, making the book that much more enjoyable. Mills can not only write a line, he can also deliver one so the story comes alive in the audiobook version even if he sings the tunes he refers to (fortunately there aren't many). The audiobook is available on ITunes

Robert J. Mills started writing for Bob Hope in 1977 when Hope was only 74 and would keep entertaining for twenty more years. The Laugh Makers tells the story of the writing crew behind the entertainer. It is also part Bob Hope and part TV comedy specials biography.

Writing for someone like Hope meant being able to deliver material for and under any circumstance. One of Mills' first jobs was to write the Hope press release following Bing Crosby's death. He would also have to write sketches for the various TV special, USO shows, and anything else the comic was involved in. Hope could come up with his own material but most of the time everything was carefully planned and calculated.

You might expect a book like The Laugh Makers to be only complimentary towards the boss but Mills is not afraid to reveal some lesser moments without at any time losing any respect for Hope.

Also, Mills does not steal the limelight, making it clear there is a team of writers in this story.

In the last two or three chapters it is clear Hope is fading. This makes reading or listening a bit harder but, again, Mills knows how to tell a story.

A much appreciated touch is the index at the end of the book so you can find a particular reference. Also appreciated is the What Happened To section.

If you know someone interested in Hollywood or TV history, The Laugh Makers is an absolute treasure.

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