Best of Shouts & Murmurs (from the past year or so)


The Shouts & Murmurs section of the New Yorker is reliably witty, wry, and short. For some, it is the pre-game to reading the magazine, and for others, the best (or only) part of the magazine (second to the cartoons).

Below is a list of what I consider the “Best of” from the past year or so.

But first, my criteria:

– Timelessness; I believe it is good today and will resonate in ten years

– Memorableness; I consider a piece an automatic “in” when I can remember it from eleven months ago

– Hilariousness: I laugh out when it is more or less inappropriate to do so (i.e. at work, on the phone, while being dumped, et al)

– You’re Jack Handey


Four Short Crushes, by Paul Simms

The Afterlife: Cutting Back, by David Owen

How Things Even Out, by Jack Handey

How I Want to be Remembered, by Jack Handey

The Symbols on My Flag (and What They Mean), by Jack Handey

Animal Tales, by Simon Rich

Fourteen Passive-Aggressive Appetizers, by Yoni Brenner

Stump Speech, by Paul Simms

Play Nice, by Simon Rich

My Gal, by George Saunders

The Lord Bod, by Paul Rudnick

Think Hard, It’ll Come Back to You, by Woody Allen

Is There a Problem Here?, by Larry Doyle

Mouse Au Vin, by Noah Baumbach


(I loathe to mention this list is gender-unbalanced.)

Elissa Bassist edits the Funny Women column. She teaches humor writing at The New School and Catapult. Follow her on Twitter, and visit for more literary, feminist, and personal criticism. More from this author →