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Publisher's Summary

Joey Cooley is a golden-curled child film star, the idol of American motherhood. Reginald, Third Earl of Havershot, is a boxing blue on a mission to save his wayward cousin from the fleshpots of Hollywood. Both are under anesthetic at the dentists when something strange happens - and their identities are swapped. Suddenly Joey can use his six-foot frame to get his own back on his Hollywood persecutors. But Reggie has to endure everything Joey had to put up with in the horrible life of a child star - including kidnapping.

Public Domain (P)2012 AudioGO

What listeners say about Laughing Gas

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of Wodehouse's most ambitious books

Though there's plenty of "inhaling" at various bars, clubs and pubs throughout the Wodehouse canon, this is the only story I know of that involves an actual out-of-body (or, to be completely accurate, out-of-two-bodies) experience.

Due to this unique plot twist, it's also the only Wodehouse story I know of where we are treated to life from a child's perspective. Again, to be completely accurate it's life seen through the eyes of an adult who happens at the time to be inhabiting a child's body. Nevertheless, this adult has to deal with all the vicissitudes of youth--from bedtimes to bullies. Add the fact that this kid also happens to be a Hollywood child star, with all the dietary obligations that entails, and you can see that our hero has his hands full.

This was the first Wodehouse I ever read, given to me by my hall RA in college. Of course, like a chump I put off reading it for five or six years but when I did it came as rare and refreshing fruit.

Best line: When a temperance reformer hauls up her slacks about the "lake of alcohol" in America, the hero's cousin, a confirmed inebriate, lights up: "You mean...we can just go there and lap?"

Best situation: Confronted by a ten year old boy in ringlets and a flat Ohio accent who claims to be related to him by ties of blood, this cousin runs the other way--either to the nearest bar or temple of temperance. In a town built on illusions, it's hard to convince someone that something genuinely amazing has happened.

Meanwhile, everyone--and I mean everyone, from cops to kidnappers--is angling for a part in the next celluloid epic.

My only squawk is the way man and boy return to their own bodies--disappointing after the completely plausible (or at least plausible-for-Wodehouse-in-Hollywood) way they got switched in the first place. Nevertheless, a delightful romp.

6 people found this helpful

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A fantastic place to start for those new to PGW!

This is a great place to start if you have been ordered, like many of friends and acquaintances, to give Wodehouse a shot. Seriously, I almost envy you on your journey into the world of Wodehouse. If the books weren't so satisfying on repeated rereads and relistens, I probably would envy you. But even after half a dozen times through these stories I still find them as funny, fresh, enlivening, and as beautiful as ever.

The story is as great as it is timeless; boy meets girl, girl tricks boy so boy falls in love, boy gets souls swapped with literal boy only to discover that girl isn't who she seems, boy (figurative) realizes the one for him was the one he let get away, but now it may all be too late! Ahhhhh, the classic tale!

The first chapter may be one of the most enjoyable first chapters of any book I have ever read. Wodehouse was a master of framing his story, creating convoluted plots, writing memorable characters, creating beautiful prose, and making up wonderfully ridiculous (yet somehow believable) sounding names for people.
This story proves Wodhouse's mastery of each of these points.

Jonathan Cecil is absolutely amazing. THE best narrator of audiobooks perhaps ever. Though I suppose he typecasted himself by practically only doing Wodehouse books... But he does them wonderfully.

Cecil is brilliant. He shines in this book because his sense of comedic timing is absolutely spot-on. The voices are wonderful as well, but for me, Cecil's ability to read Wodehouse's complex and compound sentences with the proper emphasis and just the right amount of top-spin make him the voice I hear in my own head when I read one of Wodehouse's books myself.

If I could, I would give this 10 stars so it would magically appear on "your recommendations" for every single Audible user. Listening to Cecil reading Wodehouse should be prescribed in place of anti-anxiety medicine.

Seriously. Buy this book.
You can thank me later.

3 people found this helpful

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A Freaky-Friday story

I am a Wodehouse fan, and this novel does not let me down. It follows what today is a common comeidic formula -- switching bodies -- and adds to it. I am not enough of a scholar to say when this formula was first used, but if Wodehouse was not one of the first, he did it in his own unique way with equally charming characters.

A fun summer listen.

2 people found this helpful

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My Favorite PGW/Cecil

Why? It contains all the Elements essential to a good PGW tale, BUT he threw in the impossible scenario. While all the others are a stretch of the imagination, Laughing Gas's 4th or 5th Dimension switch is fantasy, yet PGW wove it so masterfully into a believable story, that even the ending was a smooth transition back to reality. My fav words? " the idol of American motherhood."

1 person found this helpful

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Odd little story All abot full of fun and flavor!

All about Hollywood, and the film industry verses the British nobility, their language, duty, compared to a spoiled mean spirited child actor. Great fun!

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Too silly, plus casually racist

I love Wodehouse in general, and think Cecil is the best reader for him. “Laughing Gas” in particular I found a bit repetitive, and the story only kind of entertaining. I just don’t think the plot has aged well. In addition, unlike the other books I’ve read by Wodehouse, this one has a number of racial stereotypes, ethnic slurs, and one casual use of the n word. Wodehouse is great when he’s mocking aristocrats; he’s less appealing when participating in the casual racism of his day. Overall, would not recommend.

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Good but not the best

This is good but not the best of Wodehouse. Think of it as Freaky Friday in the mid 1930s. If that appeals to you then you might like this book.

Jonathan Cecil give another fine performance.

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Wodehouse writes Freaky Friday!

The switching of bodies and perspectives is unusual for Wodehouse. But that man could tell any sort of story. I would’ve liked to have heard him try on aliens.
This is a lot of fun, and just like his other works I’m sure I will listen to it again.

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So much fun.

This is not the usual Wodehouse. More unpredictable but just as delightful! I highly recommend!