When a bratty Hollywood child star and an English aristocrat exchange souls at the dentist in Laughing Gas, the result is transatlantic mayhem at its funniest


10 thoughts on “Laughing Gas

  1. Dan Schwent Dan Schwent says:

    When his cousin Egremont gets betrothed in Hollywood, Reggie Havershot has no choice but to go find him Reggie finds Eggy but falls in love in the process with April June After a strange incident in a dentist s office, Reggie swaps bodies with child star Joey Cooley Will Reggie be able to set things right before Joey wrecks his life by punching everyone he dislikes in the snoot This is the first Wodehouse I ve read in a couple years, recommended by none other than Gail Carriger at the 2016 Go When his cousin Egremont gets betrothed in Hollywood, Reggie Havershot has no choice but to go find him Reggie finds Eggy but falls in love in the process with April June After a strange incident in a dentist s office, Reggie swaps bodies with child star Joey Cooley Will Reggie be able to set things right before Joey wrecks his life by punching everyone he dislikes in the snoot This is the first Wodehouse I ve read in a couple years, recommended by none other than Gail Carriger at the 2016 Goodreads Summit.It starts out with the old Wodehouse formula, a gentleman of leisure infatuated with a beautiful woman Then the body swap happens and things go pear shaped in a big way Is Laughing Gas the spiritual ancestor of later body swapping comedies like Freaky Friday, Vice Versa, and that episode of Red Dwarf where Lister and Rimmer switch bodies Yes, yes it probably is.Laughing Gas hasoutlandish situations than most Wodehouse novels and is also a satire of Hollywood culture, something that hasn t changed in the eighty years since this book was written I lost count of the hilarious lines Wodehouse wove into this ridiculous tapestry.Despite its deviation from the tried and true Wodehouse formula, the trademark wordplay, twists of fate, impostors, and misunderstandings are in full swing The additional complication of Cooley in Havershot s body rampaging around Hollywood, smiting his enemies, while Havershot endures the hell that Cooley has created back home provides additional laughs.As with all Wodehouses, there are some reversals of fortune and everything ultimately turns out okay While I liked Laughing Gas for its novelty and the usual Wodehousian wordplay, it wasn t up to the standards of The Code of the Woosters, Leave It to Psmith, or Cocktail Time Three out of five stars


  2. W W says:

    The Earl of Havershot and Joey Cooley,the child actor meet at the dentist s They are administered laughing gas as an anesthetic.The result,they switch bodies in the fourth dimension.This is one of the funniest books by Wodehouse.I laughed,till it hurt.


  3. Bibliovoracious Bibliovoracious says:

    Well, my first Wodehouse It was funny I didn t think about it on the way through, but his characters were strong enough and the humor pithy enough to slide right on past the preposterous plot I hope all of my century of literature catch up is as pleasantly surprising as this.


  4. ALLEN ALLEN says:

    It s 1936 in Beverly Hills A thirtyish Englishman on a visit and an eleven year old American film star, both with impacted wisdom teeth, head to the same dental clinic for the same procedure extraction, under the influence of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas As they take the gas from adjoining dentists, their souls switch and each winds up in the body of the other That s the premise of this brief and bright comic novel by P.G Wodehouse, a master of the form After the initial con It s 1936 in Beverly Hills A thirtyish Englishman on a visit and an eleven year old American film star, both with impacted wisdom teeth, head to the same dental clinic for the same procedure extraction, under the influence of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas As they take the gas from adjoining dentists, their souls switch and each winds up in the body of the other That s the premise of this brief and bright comic novel by P.G Wodehouse, a master of the form After the initial confusion clears, the Brit Reggie Haverford and the brat Joel Cooley size each other up, and as often happens in Hollywood novels, the child provessophisticated and cool than the foreign visitor He also knows exactly what he wants to go back home to Chillicothe, Ohio, and eat Southern fried chicken at the family table, far away from the starvation diet the film studio he is contracted to has placed him in The Englishman wants to get back into his real body and pursue courtship with a gorgeous looking starlet he met on the boat going over.But while LAUGHING GAS is partially about farcical plotworks, it succeeds best as a satirical take on Hollywood and Anglo American relations One cannot think of this short novel without recalling Waugh there s even a pop up religion, the Temple of the New Dawn Many of the names are funny adjoining dentists Zizzbaum and Burwash, cantankerous film star April June, film mogul Brinkmeyer and his autocratic sister The mutually incomprehensible dialects of Southern Cal and Oxbridge make for good hud confusion as well While I personally do not think LAUGHING GAS the equal of Wodehouse s better known Jeeves and Wooster novels, this take on the enduring Freaky Friday theme can and does entertain


  5. John John says:

    Another funny story When Lord Havershot a shallow aristocrat is sent to Hollywood to bring back Eggie his cousin Hilarity ensues A trip to the dentist at the same time as Joey Cooley the male equivalent of Shirley Temple results in the two swapping their souls while under the laughing gas The rest of the story has the veil removed from Reggie s eyes to his mad love for April June A complete pill Incidents with frogs a diet of prunes and spinach and a kidnapping that results in a proposal Another funny story When Lord Havershot a shallow aristocrat is sent to Hollywood to bring back Eggie his cousin Hilarity ensues A trip to the dentist at the same time as Joey Cooley the male equivalent of Shirley Temple results in the two swapping their souls while under the laughing gas The rest of the story has the veil removed from Reggie s eyes to his mad love for April June A complete pill Incidents with frogs a diet of prunes and spinach and a kidnapping that results in a proposal This stand alone novel has its moments and follows the tried and true formula which resulted in the phenomenal success in of Jeeves and Wooster as well as the Blanding Castle series What I like about the story is the stereotypical characterisations and the funny scenes PGW comes up with Joey trying to rescue April June and his surprise at her anger and boot in his posterior To the apparent hallucinations that Eggie has of an imp that puts him on the path to sobriety


  6. Mark Mark says:

    Susan Hill has a good deal to answer for Having read her brilliant memoir Howard s End is on the landing earlier this year I realized, as she spoke of books and articles she had read and enjoyed, that I had never read any PG Wodehouse So, having gone into my local second hand bookshop I bought a couple of books of short stories and this novel Hmmmm It was ok but I still fear that I may be the only person in the world who finds Wodehouse annoying and shallow Friends tell me over and over Susan Hill has a good deal to answer for Having read her brilliant memoir Howard s End is on the landing earlier this year I realized, as she spoke of books and articles she had read and enjoyed, that I had never read any PG Wodehouse So, having gone into my local second hand bookshop I bought a couple of books of short stories and this novel Hmmmm It was ok but I still fear that I may be the only person in the world who finds Wodehouse annoying and shallow Friends tell me over and over again that he is hilarious and a real tonic and easy to pick up and read when a pick me up read is needed but all I seem to find myself doing is smiling slightly every couple of pages or so acknowledging a clever turn of phrase or funny image and then sighing as I have to wade my way through the same repeated inanities until the next image or phrase Of course he is of his time, he is writing of the society in which he mingles and mixed but whereas there are some writers who can capture, for me anway, the attraction or intriguing nature of otherwise spoilt and over priviledged characters, Wodehouse just paints them in all their self centred and mindlessly shallow existences without any of the accompanying warmth His hero in this story is a naive and shallow aristocrat who, by virtue of a mix up at the dentist, ends up body swapping with a Hollywood child star This results in great hilarity, well for Wodehouse anyway, as each tries to struggle through in changed circumstances and discoveries are made and new alliances forged and remoulded If I was to read oncethe urge that the child star, newly be muscled in the aristo s body, had to punch someone on the nose I would have screamed in a fairly non literary appreciative type way The premise of the book was quite clever and way before, obviously, all the body swap films of the 80 s and 90 s but I have to say that even if those films took the initial idea from Wodehouse they did farwith it Now, having read two volumes of his short stories and a novel, i feel that I may have done all that can be expected of me in my attempts to try to warm to this man Maybe I will give it another go in a year or so but for the moment I have to say farewell and accept the fact that there must be something lacking in my literary makeup, maybe I have a chromosone missing or am one button short of a smoking jacket Either way I shall not even touch Bertie and Wooster lest I have a nervous breakdown Having said that there was one phrase I loved and plan to use it at my earliest convenience in fact it maybe sums up my struggle. I couldn t have laughed to please a dying Aunt


  7. Sam Sam says:

    This one was quite funny, even though it was a little sad to see the main character, Reggie Havershot go through so much in 2 days One had to feel pity for him by the end of it all, but as usual, everything ended sunnily and it was a treat to read.


  8. Roberto Roberto says:

    Really, really stupid, and really, really funny.


  9. George George says:

    3.5 stars A delightful, entertaining, humorous, witty read Reginald, Third Earl of Havershot travels to Hollywood to persuade a cousin not to marry a Hollywood fleshpot In Hollywood Reginald goes to the dentist and under laughing gas , has his identity swapped with Joey Cooley, a child film star, idol of American motherhood Readers new to P.G.Wodehouse should begin with The Inimitable Jeeves Jeeves series or Something Fresh Blandings series.


  10. Frederick Frederick says:

    This is Wodehouse at his peak, which means it was written in the mid 1930 s 1936, to be precise In that decade, he wrote the two funniest Bertie Wooster novels RIGHT HO, JEEVES and THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS , and also UNCLE FRED IN THE SPRINGTIME Some of the Emsworth novels were penned in the thirties or typed Wodehouse was a typer He d type a few pages one day, pin them to the wall and the next morning, make corrections, then type a fewpages and put those on the wall He was in h This is Wodehouse at his peak, which means it was written in the mid 1930 s 1936, to be precise In that decade, he wrote the two funniest Bertie Wooster novels RIGHT HO, JEEVES and THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS , and also UNCLE FRED IN THE SPRINGTIME Some of the Emsworth novels were penned in the thirties or typed Wodehouse was a typer He d type a few pages one day, pin them to the wall and the next morning, make corrections, then type a fewpages and put those on the wall He was in his fifties He d been a published writer since 1906, writing, roughly speaking, a novel a year After about twenty years of being a professional writer with a serious involvement in the development musical comedy this workmanlike author began to write with incredible polish His early novels starred bland, well meaning young heroes, but things began to change when his well meaning heroes began hanging out with somewhat anti social fellows such as Psmith Psmith was a caricature of a Socialist, and, inasmuch as Wodehouse was, in no way, political, Psmith fell away and, by the 1930 s, had turned into the aristocratic, middle aged fun maker, Uncle Fred Uncle Fred s persona is not that far from that of Fred Astaire He was dashing, a tad mischievous and something of a matchmaker But Wodehouse s genius came out in the novels as opposed to the stories narrated by Bertie Wooster Bertie Wooster trumps any other character in Wodehouse, because he complains The Bertie Wooster books are hilarious because the slapstick is narrated by a lazy young heir who has no idea that he s smarter than anybody else No criticism I ve ever read of Wodehouse champions Bertie s powers of observation He feels put upon and is perpetually wriggling out of wedding engagements he hasn t instigated By the three quarter mark of any Bertie novel, he is in a total panic over his situation and, by the end, his almost supernatural butler, Jeeves, manipulates Bertie s environment in a beneficial way In these novels, bland heroes play only a tertiary role One of Bertie s friends always gets to marry the girl of his choice in the last few pages, and Bertie gets to have a nice breakfast on a veranda with a newspaper brought by Jeeves Jeeves always wins a concession from Bertie after the major story is over I think in one book, Jeeves manages to toss out Bertie s loud socks without Bertie, who treasures the socks, risking an objection Anyway, LAUGHING GAS is almost as good as a Bertie Wooster book It s from Wodehouse s great phase