What Makes You Laugh, Andrew Harlan?

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Editor’s Note: For the 2021 edition of duPont Registry Tampa Bay’s Health & Happiness Issue, we asked an assortment of funny people “What makes you laugh?” Judging by the response to this question by bookseller Andrew Harlan, it’s as much fun to work at Tombolo Books as it is to shop there. Tombolo is the small, smartly curated indie bookstore every community needs, and St. Pete’s lucky to have it — not least because of staffers like Andrew, who (when he’s not making mouths water with his posts for I Love the ‘Burg’s St. Pete Supper Club) is having a puntastically good time selling books (and doing overstock burpees). Here he shares recommendations for some Tombolo tomes that will tickle your funnybone.

Andrew Harlan, Marketing Coordinator, Tombolo Books

If you couldn’t tell from the IG reels showcasing Bookstore Crossfit, Ballet, Wrestling, and of course the Reader Bowl, not to mention our Sunday Scaries, then you should know we like to have fun at Tombolo Books. 

Sometimes it’s something as simple as a pun on a card that leaves us in stitches. Two in particular from Mattea Studio come to mind: 

One card reads “Nothing Beets Us” with a depiction of beets. Another card from the same artist reads “Hey, Let’s Spoon” with an illustration of a wonderful spoonbill on the front. 

Yes, we’re suckers for puns. 

Each card, sticker, and magnet we carry is lovingly and meticulously curated by Tombolo Books co-owner Candice Anderson. Just peer through the sticker section the next time you visit the store and delight in designs that range from a boxing rabbit in a unitard to a pug defiantly standing on a giant donut. 

If you’re looking to laugh, then bookseller Serena has two top-tier recommendations. 

The first is Jenny Lawson’s latest totally raw book Broken. It’s brimming with the heartbreaking, honest and hilarious anecdotes her legion of fans have become accustomed to. 

The second is Kevin Wilson’s fiction masterpiece Nothing to See Here. Without spoiling too much, I’ll just say this book has two children that spontaneously combust when agitated. What more do you need?

Bookseller Claire is also a big fan of this novel. From her staff pick shelf: “Took this book on a dismal flight and laughed out loud while my seatmate slept. Take one weirdo loner Tennessee nobody, give her two weirdo loner spontaneously combusting kids to care for, and the result is this hilarious and tough-yet-tender story. Truly loved it.”

For me, it’s all about Samantha Irby. Her essay on the absolute marvel, absurdity, strangeness and glory of The Cheesecake Factory deserves every literary award in existence. In Wow, No Thank You, she applies the full-nelson of cringe comedy and does not let go. Irby is effortlessly relatable, unabashedly honest, and so thirsty. A fantastic read for tough times, a fantastic read for good times. 

The crown jewel of comedy, IMHO, is Pugtato. It’s a pun-filled picture book that is as much a feast for adults as it is for kids. Simple, silly, breezy puns that combine animals and vegetables into adorable creatures you just want to present in a wooden bowl in that dining room that’s only for special occasions.