When tradition twists with popular culture and lands on “people’s oral humor,” idealistic Reuben Lamberth finds himself in a mess. He is a young, progressive, inspired scholar teaching at a prestigious northeastern university, but his other unique self has another foot planted secretly in the world of standup comedy as Josh Sandburg. His stage name is a composite of ‘joshing’ and the renowned American poet Carl Sandburg. Neither his fully tenured professor wife Byrra, who is enmeshed in a cabal of women’s faculty; his tough minor gangster-hood father Solly; his staid sociology chairperson and conventional colleagues; nor his tyrannical University President Jeremiah Brittle have any idea that he performs in comedy clubs as Josh Sandburg. Should he be outed, there is considerable doubt that he will be upgraded to the coveted position of tenure, and his marriage may suffer as well. Reuben wonders, Is it worth giving up academia and taking a flyer in the world of comedy culture? The finale in this novel reveals tantalizing internecine connections that land squarely in the realm of people’s oral humor.