By the Numbers: Humor

Stats commemorating National Humor Month in April

March 1, 2023

Pieces from Library of Congress' Bob Hope Collection
Photo: Bob Hope Collection, Library of Congress

Year that author Larry Wilde founded National Humor Month, held annually in April.

Number of oral history interviews available online through the American Comedy Archives, housed at Iwasaki Library at Emerson College in Boston. Interview participants include Margaret Cho, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Number of print materials contained in the Bob Hope Collection at the Library of Congress (LC). Comedy legend Hope, who died in 2003, donated his personal archive to LC in 1999. The collection includes his Joke File, a repository of used and unused material created throughout his career for television, radio, and live shows.

Number of jokes found in Philogelos, the world’s oldest surviving joke book. Philogelos, commonly translated as “the laughter-lover” or “the joker,” is believed to date back to 4th or 5th century Greece.

Number of minutes each performer receives at Dobbs Ferry (N.Y.) Public Library’s Comedy Open Mics. The library’s “Comedy on the Hudson” program offers monthly open mic nights and a few larger showcases every year for local performers.

Number of plays written by comedian and The Daily Show alum Lewis Black. In 2022, Black donated his archive to the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill Libraries, his alma mater. The collection primarily holds material from Black’s multidecade work as a playwright; he studied playwriting at UNC and got his start in theater before finding mainstream success as a comic. The collection also includes some memorabilia from stand-up, film and television appearances.

Number of followers of the Fowlerville (Mich.) District Library’s viral TikTok account. The small-town library’s TikTok is known for its humorous “One Star Review Guess Who” series, in which staffers present one-star reviews of famous novels and viewers guess the book that’s being panned. For example, one review for Stephen King’s The Shining read: “How can a hotel be powerful enough to assume corporeal form but not fix a boiler?”

The number of books of “light fiction” that exist within Greene County (Ohio) Public Library (GCPL)’s fictitious Biblioblimp. The library, located near Dayton—home of the Wright Brothers and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base—recognized its aviation heritage with a 2018 April Fool’s prank announcing the new offering. Biblioblimp, GCPL told patrons, serviced hundreds of flagpoles, trees, and passing clouds throughout the US because “fairies, dragons, and pegasi need libraries too.” Biblioblimp was also said to carry the complete works of Led Zeppelin.


Lyndon B. Johnson. Photo: Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum

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