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Caught Short! A Saga of Wailing Wall Street

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Continuing with our series of blogs on books in the financial humor genre, we will take a quick look at Caught Short—A Saga of Wailing Wall Street by the iconic singer, dancer, actor, comedian, and songwriter, Eddie Cantor. Published in November of 1929 (one month after the Crash of 1929), this book delivered some sorely needed laughter to Cantor’s fellow victims of Wall Street’s shenanigans who had much to cry about. Encouraged to speculate on margin, Cantor lost a very large sum of money, and writing jokes about it may have provided some type of catharsis. That the book resonated with the freshly burnt investing public is evidenced by its three separate printings within a single month. The gallows humor comes through in jokes such as the guy who checks into the hotel and asks for a room on the 19th floor to which the clerk responds, “What for? Sleeping or jumping?” I won’t give away any more of the jokes, but suffice it to say there is at least one on every page, and at only 36 pages, it is quite easy and worthwhile to finish this book in under a half hour.

That Eddie Cantor was a man of many talents is inarguable, but few people are aware of his tremendous philanthropic work such as his founding of the March of Dimes to help cure infantile paralysis and his tireless support of our troops during World War II. To summarize, Caught Short is a beautiful (and hilarious) example of taking life’s lemons and making lemonade.