Good comedy seems rare in the world, especially when you turn on the television and see a majority of it is crap. In the literary world, things aren’t too dissimilar, as comedic writing isn’t as abundant as we’d hoped. If there were more people out there like these funny novelists, though, we'd probably all read a lot more.
Elmore Leonard was a highly idolized, influential writer known for having few, yet eloquent, words. His recent passing earns him top spot for all the wit in his writing and ability to know what needed mentioning and what did not. Although a crime thriller genre writer, Leonard was known for his snappy, amusing dialogue to keep his readers hooked. With more than 50 novels, several of which were adapted into television and film (“Out of Sight”), he says his favorite was “Tishomingo Blues,” an outlandishly hilarious concoction of characters thrown into the same scenario.
One of the strongest comedic writers of the fiction world, David Sedaris is everyone’s go-to author for a good laugh when they feel like avoiding a good cry. One of his biggest novels, “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” from 2000 is a steaming example of comedic perfection with its two-part collection of self-deprecating autobiographical style, a type of writing that makes the reader feel a little better about themselves. The book explores his early upbringing and travels across France, an amusingly frustrating crusade since he didn’t speak the language too well.
His recent collection “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” is his latest work, which he has toured for and sold out comedic lectures in support of all through the spring.
Comedic fantasy writer Christopher Moore is known for his hilarious exploration of the ordinary set in extraordinary scenarios with a certain degree of absurdity that busts the guts of his audience. One of his greatest achievements was a fictional work called “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Friend,” a funny fill-in-the-blank for all the moments of Jesus Christ we might not known about, published in 2002. His 2004 novel “The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror” is set for film production in late 2013.
With a writing style that many people can easily recognize, Chuck Palahniuk – of “Fight Club” fame – writes in a dialect that puts you on the same brain level as the person speaking without losing its reader, and it’s usually a hilarious state of affairs to be stuck in. In fact, in his brilliant 2001 novel “Choke,” he fills the pages with odd scenarios of fake choking in public restaurants in order to make people feel good about themselves, along with working in a colonial reenactment museum with drug and sex addicts. Any fan of Chuck will likely enjoy his novel “Invisible Monsters” too, but “Choke” takes the cake and some other strange edibles, too.
American political satirist Chris Buckley, who got his biggest chops for his book-turned-screenplay “Thank You for Smoking,” is known for calling it like he sees it, and as an observant member of society, he hits it on the head every time. In “Thank You for Smoking,” Buckley wrote about a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, played by Aaron Eckhart in the film adaptation. It is a subtly hilarious take on one of the biggest problems to ravage America while bringing interesting points of view into the pages. For all his political intelligence, Buckley knows how to stick you with a laugh using his brain, perhaps a lost art.
With a face like Gandalf the Grey and a nose for fantasy comedy, Pratchett makes the list about as easily as Kathy Griffin gets cut from it. One of his most popular works was the fantasy novel “Good Omens,” co-written with Neil Gaiman, another popular name in fantasyland. Published in 1990, it's a genuinely funny take on the end of the world. Many people know his longtime writing history for the fantasy series “Discworld,” but there are more than 40 of those to conquer, so start small unless you’re a bookworm.
Known best for her Bridget Jones character, satire novelist Helen Fielding has a good grasp of exaggerated female characters trying to make their way through the 20th century. If “Bridget Jones’s Diary” doesn’t give you an empathetic chuckle, there might be something wrong with you. Fielding is a polished articulator of expectations versus reality, something most of us misfits struggle with in our constantly vain adolescent misbehavior.
She could be considered more of a comedian, but Amy Sedaris wins as more of an actress/author in this writer’s eyes, plus she’s got her brother, David Sedaris’s funny bone. Sedaris is both a playwright, co-writing with her brother, as well as Stephen Colbert, in the past and an editorial columnist to boot, but her entertaining book “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence” was given great reviews for its sharp sense of humor. Plus she’s kind of a cutie patootie. If you think David Sedaris is a winner in your book, wishing there was girl just as funny, you’re day has just been made.
A mystery thriller novelist with a knack for sarcasm and wit, DeMille’s stories of suspense are encapsulated in colorful exchanges of words with his characters' dialogue. His 1997 fictional thriller “Plum Island” especially stands out as not only a solid body of work that gets the heart pumping with its New York cop introduction and line of duty suspense, but also a hilarious back and forth from its chief detective, John Corey.
If you’re a mystery thriller junky, DeMille is the way to go, as he fuses comedy into suspenseful, well-crafted writing.
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Andy Borowitz, although well-known for his creation of hit ‘90s TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” is actually considered one of the funniest persons in American by several people who get to make those special lists. Borowitz also edited the book “The 50 Funniest American Writers” so it seems he might be qualified for our very special list. Aside from the occasional stand-up comedy, political satire and television performance, Borowitz wrote his first autobiographical piece in 2012 called “An Unexpected Twist,” a dark comedy about a 2008 near-death experience. Tune into Andy; he’s a real clown.