Funny Books

Writers I would recommend are

Donald Westlake
Carl Hiasson
Bill Bryson (not novels but very funny)
Tom Sharpe (South African living in England and may be more to British tastes but I find him consistently laugh out loud funny)
Mordecai Richler (Canadian)
Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel about a fictional baseball team.
Dave Barry.

Here is the list of humorous books at Bookbrowse, which is a great site when you are looking
for new stuff in a familiar genre. They have heaps of information about all the books, good summaries and usually several pages of excerpt to see if you like the author’s style.

Thirding or fourthing Janet Evanovich.

Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding is extremely funny.

Virgins is, I think, the funniest book I’ve ever read. But I grew up Catholic so that definitely helped.

Charles Johnson’s MIDDLE PASSAGE. Hilarious. Should be made into a movie but Hollywood would never dare make a funny movie set in the 1830s about a black stowaway aboard a slave ship.

I just read Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost, and it was pretty funny. Many snort-out-loud moments.

Po Bronson’s The First 20 Millions Is Always Tthe Hardest and Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs.

Two brilliant parodies of life in Silicon Valley.

They’re short story anthologies (actually, they’re compilations of his magazine columns) rather than novels, but all books by Patrick F. McManus are dangerous to read when others are sleeping. You won’t be able to just chuckle softly. His subjects are either being a kid in Idaho or being an outdoorsman, but you don’t have to fish and hunt to find his stuff hilarious.

Especially the one where he’s riding his bicycle with a deer strapped onto him. That one hurts, it’s so funny.

It’s not quite a classic for the ages, but I had quite a few good laughs reading Mike Nelson’s Death Rat!.

Most books by comedians are awful beyond belief. Standup routines don’t work without the atmosphere and the intonation.

Two exceptions:

Before he got Politically Incorrect, Bill Maher wrote True Story: A Novel, a roman a clef about the early days of his generation of comics. Funny, bitter, and black.

Jon Stewart’s collection of humor pieces, Naked Pictures of Famous People, is surprisingly good - surprisingly only because he hasn’t had anything else in print.

Calvin Trillin, on the other hand, is a professional humorist rather than a comedian. His collections of columns are terrific, his novels are very funny - my favorite is Floater - and he even has a collection of political poems out.

Another humor columnist worth the effort is Libby Gelman-Waxner, who does a movie column in Premiere magazine. Libby is actually Paul Rudman, the male and openly gay screenwriter and novelist, which makes the column even funnier when you know the joke. She/He has a collection, If You Ask Me.

Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, tried to break free of the box he put himself in with two very black comedies, Rummies and Q Clearance. Neither sold worth a damn and he gave up and went back to writing shark books, but give the guy a break and hunt them down.

Around the same time Christopher Buckley, yes, William’s son, started writing political satires with The White House Mess. Other titles are Thank You for Smoking and No Way to Treat a First Lady. They’re not meant to be anything other than light entertainment, but quick reads are fun. He leans to the right, of course, which may or may not appeal to you but most every other comic writer leans left, which also may or may not appeal to you.

In mainstream fiction, T. Coraghessan Boyle is maybe the biggest name, or at least the longest. Drop City is acidly funny, and his entire output is first rate.

True satires are hard to come by these days when everything is too large to be satirized, but Max Berry’s Jennifer Government socks it to libertarian capitalism and Ben Elton - co-writer of The Young Ones and Blackadder - has done a bunch of environmental satires.

The Road To Mars

Not only is it funny, it is instructive about why things are funny.

The Crime Studio --lunatic & savage, & all about Chicago’s seamier side.

Speaking of Christopher Buckley, Exapno, I really liked Little Green Men.

Check out Donald Harington. He wrote a series of novels that all take place in the fictional town of Stay More, Arkansas. Not all of the Stay More books are funny, but most of them are, and they’re all good.

Thanks, Teeming Millions. I picked up 3 books from early in the thread, but will keep this bookmarked for times when I need to crack a smile on my daily NYC subway commute. So if you see someone laughing out loud reading a book, it just might have been your suggestion.

Starting with:
Janet Evanovich One for the Money
Richard Russo Straight Man
Christopher Moore Lamb…

Try the Adrian Mole diaries by Sue Townsend. The first couple of books in the series are great. They tend to drop off in quality once Adrian hits about twenty-five or so, but they are some of my favourite books.

I agree with most of the choices so far, particulary McManus, Evanovich, and Christopher Moore.
I would like to add James Lileks (the guy behind The Institute of Offical Cheer) very funny stuff.

Also I would like to mention The Geographer by Jim Riva.
This is flat out on of the funniest book I have ever read.

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

This is probably THE funniest book I have ever read. There is a section in the middle that had me sobbing with pain, I was laughing so hard. I envy anyone who has yet to read it the first time!

That’s what I was gonna suggest. I don’t think the quality really drops off in the later books but the tone changes a lot as Adrian grows up and matures.

The Jeeves and Wooster stories by PG Wodehouse make me laugh outloud everytime I reread them.

I picked up THe Night of the Avenging Blowfish at a used bookstore and laughed through most of it. It’s not always consistent but parts of it are extremely amusing.

No Time for Sargents is a comedy classic that became an extremely funny movie starring Andy Griffith. (I’m gonna hafta go rent this again this weekend.)

Neil Pollack’s Anthology of American Literature is one of the funniest I’ve read in years. It’s a brilliant send-up of that particularly irritating brand of pompous, condescending, post-Ivy League Harper’s-esque journalism that had me literally weeping with laughter to the point where my wife forbid me to read it in bed.

I’ll second the classics “Catch 22” and “A confederacy of dunces.”

Woody Allen’s books, which are collections of humor pieces and essays he did for mags like the New Yorker in the seventies are achingly hilarious. Start with “getting even” and “without feathers.”

Also, check out Jean Shepherd’s In god we trust; all others pay cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories (and other disasters). These are the books from which the the episodes that make up the classic 1980’s Christmas movie, “A Christmas Story” were taken - and who doesn’t love that movie? They’re absolutely hilarious.

Not to start debates, but could someone defend David Sedaris? I kept hearing how “hilarious”, “laugh-out-loud funny”, and even “side splitting” his books are, but in reading the entirety of “Naked”, “Me Talk Pretty One day”, and “barrel fever”, I don’t think I even cracked as much as a smile once. What am I missing?

You might try G.K.Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday if you like old British stuff. Yeah, Chesterton was an anti-semite and a nasty, nasty guy, but man oh man, could he write!

Try the audio books instead. His stories are a lot funnier when you hear him tell them.