We all admire those clever minds with the cunning ability to spit witty repartee at a moment's notice. The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations compiles a vast collection of such noted quotes -- some infamous, some obscure -- into one accessible guide, alphabetized by subject, from Acting to Youth, and by source, from Bud Abbott to Jerry Zucker. You'll leaf through and declare, "I wish I had said that!" on more than one occasion.
From contemporary voices like Dorothy Parker, P. J. O'Rourke, and Woody Allen to canonical writers like Charles Dickens and Evelyn Waugh to legends like Mae West and Bob Hope, the approximately 5,000 quotes are fodder for amusement and impetus to sharpen one's own verbal skills. While some could be considered odd choices that don't necessarily fit the humor bill, most inspire at least a subtle smirk, such as a movie studio's official comment on Fred Astaire ("Can't act. Slightly bald. Also dances") and Tony Curtis's response when asked what it was like to kiss Marilyn Monroe ("It's like kissing Hitler").
Still, this dense reference guide packs in the showstoppers (Jack Warner on hearing that Ronald Reagan was seeking nomination as governor of California: "No, no. Jimmy Stewart for governor -- Ronald Reagan for his best friend") and the unforgettables ("Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the war room").
This reference should be a requirement on the bookshelf of every writer, reader, and lover of the history of the human race. (Karen Mancuso)