Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

The Funny Stuff

The Official P. J. O’Rourke Quotationary and Riffapedia

by P. J. O’Rourke

A compendium of quotes and riffs from more than four decades of writing by P.J. O’Rourke on subjects ranging from government (“Giving money and power to politicians is like giving car keys and whiskey to teenage boys”) to fishing (“a sport invented by insects and you are the bait”) to apps (“we need a no-app app—let’s call it a nap”) to be published on what would have been his 75th birthday

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 288
  • Publication Date November 21, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6082-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 288
  • Publication Date November 15, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6064-5
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $25.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date November 15, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6065-2
  • US List Price $25.00

“P. J. O’Rourke was the funniest writer of his generation, one of the smartest and one of the most prolific. Now that he belongs to the ages, P.J. takes his rightful place along with Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain and Dorothy Parker in the Pantheon of Quote Gods.”—Christopher Buckley, from his introduction

When The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations was published in 1994, P. J. O’Rourke had more entries than any living writer. And he kept writing funny stuff for another 28 years. Now, for the first time, the best material is collected in one volume. Edited by his longtime friend and member of the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame Terry McDonell, The Funny Stuff is arranged in six sections, organized by subject in alphabetical order from Agriculture to Xenophobia. From his earliest days at the National Lampoon in the 1970s, through his classic reporting for Rolling Stone in the 80s and 90s to his post-Trump, pandemic, new media observations of recent years, P.J. produced incisive, amusing copy. Not only did P.J. write memorable one-liners, he also meticulously constructed riffs that built to a crescendo of hilarity and outrage—and are still being quoted years later. His prose has the electric verbal energy of Tom Wolfe or Hunter Thompson, but P.J. is more flat-out funny. And through it all comes his clear-eyed take on politics, economics, human nature — and fun. The Funny Stuff is a book for P.J. fans to devour but also a book that will bring new readers and stand as testament to one of the truly original American writers of the last 50 years.

Praise for The Funny Stuff:

“This title is recommended for all O’Rourke fans and anyone looking for something fun and clever. Even readers who don’t ascribe to O’Rourke’s libertarian politics will find passages to tickle their funny bone.”—Library Journal

Remembrances of P. J.:

“O’Rourke . . . came bombing in from the right side of the political spectrum, which made him doubly interesting. He was that rare conservative who appeared to be having a better time, and doing better drugs, than everyone else. He was well-read; he was, it often seemed, the only funny Republican alive.”—Dwight Garner in the New York Times

“P.J. O’Rourke was maybe the nicest person I’ve ever known, which is an interesting thing to say about a man who made his name and his reputation as a take-no-prisoners cynical wit and observer of political foibles.”—John Podhoretz in the New York Post

“The boomer gen’s H.L. Mencken, P.J. was summa contra everything, but joyously. If you weren’t laughing, you weren’t listening. Along with his peers Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker, he was hyperaphoristic.”—Christopher Buckley in the New York Times

“I admit that the influence of P.J. O’Rourke’s prose has not always led me down the easy road, but at least it has allowed me to have fun along the way. There is nothing I detest more than boring editorialists who think they can solve everything with the stroke of a column. What he wrote in All the Trouble in the World applies to them: ‘Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.’”—Itxu Díaz, the American Spectator 

“While his official political affiliation would in middle age see him become a Republican with a pronounced libertarian bent, he was, by way of example, as sharp-tongued and cantankerous about his new party as he was about Democrats and his former fellow travelers from the peace-and-love Sixties from which he’d emerged, a full-blown American archetype, a cranky ex-hippie who loved cars and could write his pants off.”—Jamie Kitman, Car and Driver

“He scoured West Belfast for one-liners, noting the high unemployment (‘125 per cent if you accept the locals’ figures’), bad housing (the Divis tower was ‘built in the Sixties before city planners discovered that you can’t stack poor people who drink’) and the locals’ high levels of media sophistication (‘so thoroughly journalised that urchins in the street ask, “Will you be needing a sound bite?” and criticise your choice of shutter speeds’).”—Frank McNally,the Irish Times

“He had no pretensions, mocked himself as much as he mocked everyone else, and just about every time he started typing, he nailed this tone of exasperated normalcy, this attitude of witty, snarky, irreverent incredulity with a sharp undertone of ‘Get out of my face.’”—Jim Geraghty, the National Review

“He was a proud conservative Republican — one of his books was called ‘Republican Party Reptile: The Confessions, Adventures, Essays and (Other) Outrages of P.J. O’Rourke’ — but he was widely admired by readers of many stripes because of his fearless style and his willingness to mock just about anyone who deserved it, including himself.”New York Times

“Armed with pithy one-liners and a slashing style, Mr. O’Rourke worked in the tradition of H.L. Mencken, targeting hypocrisy, pomposity and contradiction wherever he found it.”—Washington Post

“The staff of [Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me] wrote, ‘[O’Rourke] made his debut as a special guest on our first show after 9/11, when we needed someone to come on and be funny about terrible things, which, of course, was P. J.’s specialty.’”—NPR

“O’Rourke was one of the most quoted writers in America, dissecting US politics and culture with a withering disdain and a powerful line in put-downs – often laced with a warm, self-deprecating humanity.”The Guardian

“Respected for his wit and storytelling by people across the political spectrum, O’Rourke’s early essays suggested a liberal leaning . . . However, he soon changed his political stance and his work reflected libertarian conservatism.”Rolling Stone

“Though his rightward ideological shift was well underway by the time he was at the Lampoon — followed late in life by his public endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Donald J. Trump, his humor and skepticism were the major constants in his life and work.”Los Angeles Times

“His writing style suggested a cross between the hedonism of Hunter S. Thompson and the patrician mockery of Tom Wolfe: Self-importance was a reliable target. But his greatest disdain was often for the government — not just a specific administration, but government itself.”Associated Press

“O’Rourke was a Toledo, Ohio, native who evolved from long-haired student activist to wavy-haired scourge of his old liberal ideals, with some of his more widely read take downs appearing in a founding counterculture publication, Rolling Stone.”USA Today