Funny, funny, which writers have the funny?

Horse laughing

Why is the horse laughing? He showed horse sense; he’s read Patrick McManus. Image courtesy of duboix, Morguefile.

Humor comes in many literary forms. Sometimes a book is funny because the writer has a gift with words and makes them run, dance and sing. Other books are humorous when you recognize what I call The Contrast Gap — a character says one thing when that character’s thoughts or actions tell you something different.

Still other books are hilarious because the character gets into one scrape after another. This week, I read my first Janet Evanovich book. I’ve been hearing about her for years, but I’ve never gotten around to reading anything she’s written. So I picked up The Grand Finale at the library and started laughing within the first few pages. The female character, who is delivering a pizza, climbs a tree to rescue a kitten, falls out of the tree while goggling at the hero, smashes the pizza, gets rescued by the hero and watches her dilapidated Jeep jump off a cliff. Now that’s what I call a great beginning. And I’m definitely seeking out more of Janet’s books in the near future.

Humor is by far one of my favorite ingredients in a book, which is why I like writers such as Clive Cussler, Nora Roberts, Mark Twain, Garrison Keillor and James Thurber. I’ve also been happily rediscovering author Patrick McManus, who wrote books such as They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? and The Night The Bear Ate Goombaw. Patrick writes about his outdoor adventures and has a great gift for comedy. (And did I mention that both he and his wife are bloggers, too?)

All of these writers have different approaches to humor in their books, which makes them so fun to read. In my opinion, they are some of America’s best.

But I wonder, blog readers: Who would be your personal choices for America’s funniest writers? And for my readers outside the U.S., who would be your picks for the funniest writers of your country?

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24 Comments

Filed under Writing

24 responses to “Funny, funny, which writers have the funny?

  1. Zee

    No one beats Twain. I can still read his stuff and belly laugh. Thurber’s wry sense of humor also still makes me laugh. But a more contemporary author that comes to mind is David Sedaris.

    • You’re the second person to mention David Sedaris. (The first was Jaclyn.) Now I’ve REALLY got to go and look him up.

      • Zee

        The only downside to moderating all comments — readers don’t quickly see what others have said. That’s not a criticism! I think after being “freshly pressed,” it might almost be imperative to moderate all comments. : D By the way, I intentionally spaced my emoticon code since on principle I hate emoticon images, but I’m entirely at ease (too much so I fear) with the abstract form.

  2. Zee

    I also like to read some Lewis Grizzard. His Elvis is Dead, and I Don’t Feel So Good Myself is one of my favorites.

  3. You mentioned two of my favorites. Twain and Thurber.

  4. Definitely Dave Barry. His novel “Big Trouble” was just hysterical.

  5. I don’t think I could pick a favorite funny American writer, but I do love David Sedaris and Bill Bryson (who I count as American even though he spent decades across the Pond). And I’m not sure if all of Mark Helprin’s books are funny, but I’m currently laughing my head off at FREDDY AND FREDERICKA. My favorite funny writers are British, though – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, who get the nod for GOOD OMENS, which slayed me, and P.G. Wodehouse – I’ll read anything he has ever written!

  6. It’s got to be Jane Austen for me.

  7. Have you read McManus’s mystery series? They really tackle my funny bone. I remember Erma Bombeck as a funny lady and I would have to say Bill Cosby has his moments as a writer. But Calvin and Hobbes and Zits are my top choices.

  8. I would agree with Zee’s inclusion of Lewis Grizzard who, unfortunately, passed away several years ago way too young (47). I had several of his books, mostly collections of his columns he wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was fun to read, to say the least. Recently, I have discovered Bill Bryson and appreciate his humor. Loved “A Walk in the Woods.”

  9. American – Neil Simon, Woody Allen
    Canadian – Stephen Leacock
    British – PG Wodehouse, Stephen Potter…. too many more

  10. Humor is one of my favorite things to write!

  11. I’m currently in love with David Sedaris. His humourous take of the everyday make me laugh out loud 🙂 even on my daily commute!!

  12. I really enjoy reading anything that is written by Bill Bryson, his book ‘Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’ made me laugh a lot and Carl Hiaasen has a great way with words, ‘Skinny Dip’ was a terrifically amusing read.

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