Recent 'Humor' on Higher Ed

May 02, 2010

College students have two qualities that book publishers love:

1. Most of them can read.

2. Like June brides, there's a fresh crop every year, and thus a new potential audience for amusing books about campus life.

Here are three recent books that try to fit that definition, with varying degrees of success:

Party Thru College: The Official Party Animal's Guide to College, by Dennis Bruce (Venture House Press, 2009)

Synopsis: A parody of the stereotypical undergraduate experience, chock-full of sophomoric jokes about blowing off classes, wearing "beer goggles," and vomiting.

Sample line: "Flunking out is a short-lived phenomenon, whereas the screw-up must time-release his incompetence over the course of four or more years."

Audience: Guys drinking beer at 2 a.m. on a couch on the front porch of a run-down house in a college town.

Just Don't Do It! A Fractured and Irreverent Look at the Ph.D. Culture, by Gary M. Grobman (The Ph.D. Culture Project, 2010)

Synopsis: An acerbic, cautionary look at the perilous path to a doctorate in the social sciences and humanities by a Ph.D. in public administration.

Sample line: "When the Mayflower arrived on the shores of Plymouth, Mass., the new immigrants brought with them many of the scourges from the Old World: venereal disease, guns, tuberculosis, measles, and the Ph.D. degree."

Audience: Bitter A.B.D.'s and doctoral dropouts.

Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School, by Adam Ruben (Broadway Books, 2010)

Synopsis: Chapter titles like "Stop? Drop? Enroll?" and "Let My Pupil Go" characterize this Ph.D.-turned-standup-comedian's cleverly caustic account of graduate school.

Sample line: "Graduate school can be considered an extension of college in the same way that death can be considered an extension of life."

Audience: Anyone amused but not entirely demoralized by the absurdities of graduate education.