Posted by: Keir Graff
In the Boston Globe (“What’s so funny?“), Alex Beam discusses the challenge of writing the comic novel:
In the immortal deathbed phrase variously attributed to actors Edwin Booth, Edmund Kean, Donald Wolfit, and others: “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” Comedy on the printed page may be the hardest of all. Writer Roy Blount Jr. once opined that, to succeed, good comic writing had to be funnier than it needed to be.
I agree–sustaining comedy at book length, especially in fiction–is one of the toughest challenges there is. The essay got me thinking about the funniest novels I’ve read, books that made me laugh frequently and never made me sigh from boredom. It’s a short list. The books below are the first ones that come to mind:
The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant, by Pablo Tusset
Don’t Point That Thing at Me, by Kyril Bonfiglioli
Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis
I know I’ll think of others, but it’s a start. What are the funniest novels you’ve read?