The Scaredy-Pants Handbook

Are you one of those people who, as you walk along a city street, stare toward the skies convinced a piano will come screaming out of a 27th-floor apartment and alight atop your head? At the gym, do you skip the sauna because you consider it a synonym for germ bouillabaisse? If you answered, “Hey, that’s me!” to either of the above, have I got the book for you: The Encyclopedia Paranoiaca!

Wryly written by Henry Beard, a founding editor of National Lampoon, and Christopher Cerf, it’s everything every scaredy-cat needs to know—and wants to know, since it validates every crazy fear they have. For example:

• Never laugh or cry while eating—you’ll choke.

• If you must be in contact with a menu at a restaurant, wash up! Menus will kill you—they’re filled with germs.

• Do you enjoy reading on the toilet? It’s fun, isn’t it? Stop it! You’ll get hemorrhoids!

It’s as if everything was put on earth just to kill you. And while that’s not completely true, all of the entries have been scrupulously fact-checked, making for a very odd, yet thoroughly fun read.

On a related note, humorist Mike Sacks convinced the famously reclusive Beard to sit down for a rare Q & A (his last was done in the ‘70s.) If you’re a fan of National Lampoon, it’s a fun read.

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Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
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A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

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My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
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“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

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My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

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Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.