Wednesday, 15 June 2016

What's So Funny?: Lessons from Canada's Leacock Medal for Humour Writing, by Dick Bourgeois Doyle AND Stephen Leacock: Selected and Introduced by Robertson Davies, by Stephen Leacock

Have you ever wondered about the first 67 winners of Canada's Stephen Leacock Award  for Humour? Me neither. Until, that is, I was presented with a delightful book on this very subject -- What's So Funny?:Lessons from Canada's Leacock Medal for Humour Writing  -- written by Dick Bourgeois-Doyle. Don't be put off by his Victorian-inspired name. He is really quite down to earth. And he is an expert on, among other subjects, the history of science and creativity in Canada. Besides writing quite prolifically -- "contributing to many books, articles, TV features and radio programs," as his biographical sketch states on page 253 -- Bourgeois-Doyle works full time in the federal government. He is currently the Secretary General of the National Research Council of Canada.
      You are probably wondering how an elevated public servant -- he was at one time chief of staff and director of communications to the minister of science and technology -- has managed to pull off such time-consuming extra-curricular publication feats. I know it was my first question when I met the author at a summer evening event at Carleton University's MacOdrum Library in 2015. Though the event was forgettable, his answer was not. It was actually his wife who replied, and I paraphrase: "People always ask this. He never uses government time for his outside activities. He is up late every night, writes all weekend and he is very organized and efficient at using his time."