I Bet I Can Make You Laugh

IBetLaugh

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and friends (Bloomsbury)

 Sorry, but I didn’t actually laugh. I smiled at several of the poems in this amusing collection, but there was a little too much wee-poo-bum-fart humour for me. While I know younger readers find poo funny, I feel it’s cheating a bit to give them too much of it, if you see what I mean. They really can learn to appreciate humour at a higher level than pants and I think it’s up to poets to show them how. The argument that poo jokes grab reluctant poetry readers is undoubtedly true, but it needs to be toned down. Of course, many of the poems in this collection are really funny and fun and completely poo-less. Illustrated by Tim Wesson.
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6 Responses to “I Bet I Can Make You Laugh”

  • carrie esmond

    I have a (non-toilet related) poem published in this book, so I do have an interest to declare. However, I feel this reviewer has been most unfair. Most of the poems in this book rely on sophisticated wordplay for their laughs, and those that do rely on toilet humour do so in a witty manner. This is the kind of book that children ACTUALLY enjoy – not what gatekeeping adults tell them is good for them. Poor show.

    Reply
  • Roger Stevens

    Hi Carrie

    Well, I thought your poem was very good. And you’re right, there are plenty of poems in the book that don’t rely on toilet humour for laughs. But, although I don’t always agree with our reviewer, he does have a point. Children do generally enjoy toilet humour. But they also enjoy lots of other sorts of humour too. So, why use toilet humour? It’s a bit easy just saying “poo” to make children laugh. And I do think that there appears to be a bit too much toilet humour in this book. I’m a big fan of Joshua, I have to say. And in his excellent “I Don’t Like Poetry” book I think there’s only one poem that’s a bit toilet-based – and that’s a very funny book.

    Reply
  • Joshua Seigal

    I have just done a quick calculation: only 14, out of 50 poems, mention anything toilet-related. In a book of specifically ‘funny poems for children’ this is actually a very low percentage. If anything, the book deserves praise for NOT having too much toilet humour. And why on earth would anyone want to ban it completely? As long as it’s done with wit, it is a perfectly valid, time honoured form of humour. I think this is an unfair review.

    Reply
    • Roger Stevens

      Fair enough. Although I would say 14 out of 50 seems very high to me.

      Reply
      • Joshua Seigal

        of those 14: three merely mention the word ‘pants’, which is pretty innocuous. And only one poem has ‘poo’ as the focus (and this is a poem that, I know from experience, works very well in performance, because of its strong rhythm). Many, many ‘funny’ children’s books rely almost entirely on toilet humour, which I was consciously careful to avoid. I’m pleased with the balance in this collection.

        Reply
        • Roger Stevens

          Okay. Well, it’s just a point of view. We all have bad reviews. It goes with the job. And it’s not that bad.

          Reply
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