CHEAP LAFFS: The Art of the Novelty Item
By Mark Newgarden and Picturebox Inc.
Designed by Peter Buchanan-Smith, photographs by Michael Schmelling

Harry N. Abrams hardback, 128 pages, published October, 2004
ISBN: 0-81095-599-7


"A delightful tour of the cheap and the weird."
- Publisher's Weekly

"Beautifully photographed and lovingly detailed."
- Philadelphia City Paper

"A very smart book about dumb products."
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"There is absolutely no good reason for Cheap Laffs to exist. It serves no pedagogical purpose, tells no vital story, and has nothing to say about the state of the world today. I read it from cover to cover."
- Toronto National Post

"Newgarden is a novelty nerd. He's studied the stupid, researched the ridiculous, interviewed the inventors and produces patent numbers to prove it! "
- Nude Book Reviews

"There's a truly outstanding introduction that tells the colorful, fascinating story of the gag, stories of intense rivalries between immigrant entrepreneurs of the last century, squabbles over who invented rubber puke, and the early regulation of sneezing powder. These were deeply weird people, but charming, and Newgarden's capsule history of gagdom is like a window into a better world."
- Corey Doctorow
- Boing Boing
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Set Cheap Laffs on a coffee table or desk. Wait for moocher to approach. He will be intrigued by the amusing cover and he will naturally want to become better acquainted with it. Once engaged, he will discover a tome of rare historical import that plunders pop culture's sub-basement to chronicle the aesthetic and cultural achievements of the novelty joke item.

Sharply designed, exploding with priceless illustrations, and written to pseudo- scientific specifications, this book captures a thriving, if marginal, industry devoted to the creation of a modest product of questionable quality, taste, originality, and necessity. Unearthing the best, worst, oddest, and most intriguing novelties of the past century, this highly entertaining treasury is sure to appeal to the demanding connoisseur consumers of twentieth century pop culture and its detritus.

Guaranteed entirely harmless.

Cheap Laffs' cover design won a AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers award in June, 2005


Click on Mouse (Rubber-Squirting) to take a mini-tour of the fabled SS Adams factory in Asbury Park, NJ; originators of Sneezing Powder, the Dribble Glass and the Joy Buzzer. Petra Meyer of National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Mark Newgarden spelunk what is perhaps the last operating novelty factory in America.