Allen, Steve. Funny People. NY: Stein & Day, 1981.
Profiles more than 15 mostly American comedians, with a chapter devoted to each one.
Baker, Russell (ed.). Russell Baker's Book of American Humor. NY: Norton, 1993.
Features short works by America's best-known humor writers, from Benjamin Franklin and O. Henry to James Thurber and Dave Barry, arranged in twelve categories, including "The Human Muddle," and "Parody, Burlesque, Criticism, and Pain."
Greenhaven Press Literary Companion to American Authors. Readings on Mark Twain. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Jenkins, Ron. Subversive Laughter: The Liberating Power of Comedy. NY: Free Press, 1994.
Examines the universal appeal of comedy and presents a global view of comedy's serious role as an agent of freedom.
Kaplan, Justin. Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain, A Biography. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1966.
Though printed in 1966, this is still a highly respected biography among serious students of Twain.
Lederer, Richard. Get thee to a Punnery. Charleston, SC: Wyrick & Co., 1988.
Provides a punning primer, written in a very lively style, containing games based on the three major types of pun-making: homographs, homophones, and double-sound puns.
Rosten, Leo. Giant Book of Laughter. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1985.
Features one-liners, bloopers, and tall tales arranged alphabetically. It covers topics from "Accents" to "Yiddish," and closes with a clever postscript titled, "How Not to Tell a Joke."
Sterling, Bryan & Sterling, Frances. Will Rogers' World: America's Foremost Political Humorist Comments on the 20's and 30's-and 80's and 90's. NY: Evans, 1989.
Took, Barry. Comedy Greats. A Celebration of Comic Genius Past and Present. Wellingborough, UK: Equation, 1989.
Presents portraits of the 20th century's best-known comedy performers in England and the U.S.
Yagoda, Ben. Will Rogers: A Biography. Norman Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.
According to the site's homepage, this is the "preeminent Internet publisher of literature, reference, and verse providing students. . . access to books and information on the web, free of charge." For extended learning activities, students will find a visit to this site well worth their time.
See Lessons 1, Lesson 2, and the Glossary for other relevant Web site links.