Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What is the Funniest Book of All Time?

Thank you so much to everyone for participating in the Inaugural First Page Critique, and especially to Michelle, our Inaugural First Pagee. There have been requests afoot for this to be a regular feature, and: consider it done!

Every Monday henceforth we'll have a page (and occasionally query) critique, and I'll continue to reward those with fast fingers and critique the first one posted in the comments. I liked the idea of choosing randomly from the comments section to account for time zones, but First Comment ensures randomness, there won't be delays as I wait for someone to reply, and creates an intriguing element of competition.

This also means we have a nicely symmetrical weekly schedule: Monday page critiques, Tuesday new, Wednesday You Tell Me, Thursday new, and Friday This Week in Publishing.

So be on the lookout Monday for the next Page Critique session! Also, I swear this only partly a shameless plug, but just so that everyone is on level footing: if you Follow the blog it updates almost instantaneously after I've posted in feed readers and the like, and I'll also update my Twitter feed when it's up as well. Hopefully that will save some people from the refresh button.

Now then! I am lifting this question directly from the Forums, and it was originally posed by Colonel Travis (yes, the real one from the Alamo, check the avatar!!):

What is the funniest book of all time?

Some of my favorites include Roald Dahl's books, but I'd ultimately have to go with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

What do you think?






225 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 225   Newer›   Newest»
beckylevine.com said...

I'd have to put in a vote for Adam Rex's THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY. It's pretty much mpossible to read Boov conversations without cracking up.

Linda Epstein said...

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues!

Ishta Mercurio said...

Re: "an intriguing element of competition." LOL. Nathan, I never saw the sadistic side of you before! I'll be sure to wave at you up there in the stands as you watch your disciples jockey for position and battle it out to be First Past the Post on Mondays.

Sharpen those typing talons, everybody. ;-)

As far as the funniest book of all time goes, I'll have to think about it. I loved both Roald Dahl and THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE, but I also enjoyed UNDER THE FROG by Tibor Fischer and everything written by Bill Bryson. So before I award the title "Funniest of All Time", I'll need to do some nostalgic perusing of my bookshelves.

Snarky Writer said...

Tanya Huff's SUMMON THE KEEPER still makes me giggle whenever I read it, even though I first read it nearly 10 years ago. And the first read had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

Tracy Clark said...

I write YA and read a ton of it. No other book in recent memory had me laughing so much as SPANKING SHAKESPEARE by Jake Wizner. Loved it! I felt like one of the guys!

Kristine Overbrook said...

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich. When the bever exploded I had to use my rescue inhailer.

cb said...

Tibor Fisher's The Thought Gang.

Chris Ing said...

It doesn't get funnier than HITCHHIKER'S.

That said, I enjoy Christopher Moore's books. A DIRTY JOB comes to mind. Hilarious.

Richard Gibson said...

BORED OF THE RINGS, a National Lampoon parody, but it only works remotely well for total aficionados of the original. And an Honorable Mention for HOW TO ATTRACT THE WOMBAT by Will Cuppy.

Carole said...

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey.

"I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you're having a good idea but it's just eggs hatching."

Ben Carroll said...

anything by Wodehouse, Waugh, Vonnegut, Lodge... will always make me laugh.

My real favourite for funnies is the sadly deceased Miles Kington, though he never wrote anything that was strictly a novel. I'd say his best was SOMEBODY LIKE ME. or HOW SHOULD I TELL THE DOG?

also, been listening to an old Pratchett (THE FITH ELEPHANT)as an audiobook recently. forgotten how much he brings the lols. it's kind of overshadowed by how he brings the people and humanity and wisdom and intrigue, but the lols are what first drew me in.

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Hmmm...it's gotta be either one or another of the Dr. Seuss books or Calvin and Hobbes (do comic books count?)

Meredith said...

Funny books or funny novels? Because my all-time favorite has to be anything by David Sedaris.

WriterGirl said...

well my favourite funny book is the basic eight by daniel handler

John said...

A Confederacy of Dunces

Marc said...

COME, THOU TORTOISE by Jessica Grant tops my list for sure!!

Rachel Grant said...

Daisy Fae and the Miracle Man, by Fannie Flagg. Hitchhiker's Guide is a close second.

J. T. Shea said...

May I suggest page critique entrants give their novel’s genre along with their 250 words next Monday? The ‘guess the genre’ aspect seems a distraction.
I thought only a mule survived the Alamo. Colonel Travis looks and writes well for a two hundred year old mule!
Funniest book of all time? I hope I haven't read it yet. Something to look forward to. Funniest book I've read so far? I cannot make up my mind, but I agree with Richard Gibson about BORED OF THE RINGS, in which the Hobbits get going a lot faster!

Eric said...

The Road

or maybe The Shining

Jaimie said...

The funniest book I've read recently was GOOD OMENS by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It was kind of messy plot-wise, but I laughed a lot.

Taylor Taylor said...

Princess Bride. Love it.

lora96 said...

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Runner Up: Otherwise Engaged by Suzanne Finnamore

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Okay, this is going to show my weirdness but the funniest book ever written is Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat. A Hitchhiker's Guide is fantastic, as are Catch 22, almost anything by P.G. Wodehouse, The Princess Bride, and Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Nathan Bransford said...

j.t.-

Yeah, I agree - I'll ask for genre next time.

MJR said...

I also laughed out loud while reading David Sedaris's last book.

Here's a funny one for writers--HOW I BECAME A FAMOUS NOVELIST by Steve Hely. I love lad and chick lit, especially if it's over the top and the protaganist is a self-deprecating slacker...

sue laybourn said...

'The Lost Continent' by Bill Bryson

Josin L. McQuein said...

I was sitting here trying to think of one and I've come to the rather startling realization that I don't think I've ever read a funny book. (Unless you count the requisite joke books from 2nd grade or Redneck themed Jeff Foxworthy novelties that decorate various coffee tables and bathrooms around these parts.)

Nancy said...

Richard Russo's STRAIGHT MAN or anything at all by that great storyteller Garrison Keillor...

Kristin Laughtin said...

I like the new symmetrical schedule!

Funniest book? That's difficult. I laugh hardest at Calvin and Hobbes, but that's a comic so I don't know if it counts here. I laugh hard at Kurt Vonnegut, but a lot of his humor is somewhat sad, because he is pointing out how messed up the world is. Recently I've really enjoyed Gail Carriger's SOULLESS for its humor.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I just packed the 5th grader off to school with copy of Hitchhiker's Guide tucked under his arm - they're doing a lit study of Science Fiction! How awesome is that?

I think he'll be pleasantly surprised by the humor.

Paolo Puggioni said...

I would have said Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), but I re-read it recently and I'm afraid it wasn't as funny as I remembered.
So I would go with a more predictable Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

MisterChris said...

Since Hitchhiker's Guide has been beaten to death, I'd offer up The Stainless Steel Rat.

Great adventure and humor.

But perhaps topping that would be Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth.

Dave F. said...

I'm with you -- Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is the funniest.

Second is Hogfather by Pratchett just because Death gives out great toys to the little kiddies.

AdriAnne said...

I'd agree with anything-by-David Sedaris for non-fiction. As for fiction... I'd say SLAM by Nick Hornby. Maybe I'm going with it because it's fresh in my mind, but I haven't laughed that hard in a while. It was embarrassing to be reading next to someone.

Jane Harmony said...

Well, I can't say I know the funniest book of all time...but the following have had me laughing out loud:
1st Prize: Maximum Ride series by James Patterson (not much for plotting...but I couldn't stop laughing)
2nd Prize: Ranger's Apprentice series (especially the most recent book) by James Flanagan
3rd Prize: The Ornament Tree, by Jean Thesman (I've lost count of how many times I've read this book, and specific scenes ALWAYS make me laugh. Timeless.)

As for Hitchhiker's, I honestly have yet to read it. But I will, for sure, given its laurels throughout these comments!

image 12 said...

There's no contest really...honest, it's a slam dunk. But it's definitely not for everyone:
'The Fan Man' (Even the title is funny...but you wouldn't know it without reading the book).
Here you go:
http://www.amazon.com/Fan-Man-William-Kotzwinkle/dp/0679752455

Anonymous said...

Another vote for P. G. Wodehouse. One of the few who makes me literally laugh out loud, all the while making the writing of it appear effortless.

Love Hitchhiker's Guide, too.

onefinemess said...

I seem to recall there being some awesome long running gags in Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy.... but Hitchhikers is a standard bearer for a reason

Marilyn Peake said...

I’m thrilled that every Monday will be critique day. How exciting!

Sometimes participating in writing critique sessions, even if your own work isn’t the excerpt chosen for the critique, has unexpected benefits. After participating in yesterday’s critique session, I went for a 4-mile walk. About halfway through, my mind wandered onto the subject of first pages of novels. The next thing I knew, I had the words to the first page of a time travel novel that begins with an accident in the lab of Nikola Tesla. I’m planning to jot down the ideas and the first page to possibly work on after the other projects I’m currently working on.

One of the funniest books I’ve ever read is SLAPSTICK by Kurt Vonnegut.

D. G. Hudson said...

Josin's comment:
'I was sitting here trying to think of one and I've come to the rather startling realization that I don't think I've ever read a funny book.' That sums it up for me as well. Thanks, Josin.

I'm not a big fan of humor books -- I'd rather read something else. I find my humor in everyday life and by watching the people around me. That blends with my quirky outlook on life in general.

image 12 said...

And as long as we're on the subject, the greatest comic film of all time (without even a close second) is 'Clockwork Orange'...obviously, a dark comedy.
If you don't see the humor in it, I can understand, but Kubrick is a real genius (and Burgess ain't bad either).
As far as the funniest movie, it's hard to say...it depends on too many variables.
But try 'The Hot Rock'.

"The Hot Rock (1972) is a comic caper movie written by William Goldman and directed by Peter Yates, starring Robert Redford, George Segal and Moses Gunn. The film was based upon Donald E. Westlake's novel which introduced his long-running Dortmunder character."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hot_Rock_(film)

Anonymous said...

Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS.

Jeff said...

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff

Angela Dove said...

Christopher Moore's stuff is reliably fun, but Terry Pratchett's THE TRUTH gets me every time.

Josin L. McQuein said...

image 12 -

If you're talking funny movies, then you can't beat Clue (the ONLY game to film adaptation that ever worked IMO) or The Princess Bride.

katelovesbooks said...

ANGUISHED ENGLISH by Richard Lederermade me laugh until I cried. That has to be my funniest book ever!

TERI REES WANG said...

Confederacy of Dunces...

Yet, I do the knee slap and the quiet choke anytime I read anything from Molier.

LiteraryEllyMay said...

Without a doubt, it's Christopher Moor's "Fool."

Terry Towery said...

I agree with most of the above, but the book that made me laugh out loud the most had to be THE CHOIRBOYS by Joseph Wambaugh. I smile just thinking about it.

Thermocline said...

There isn't a single Terry Pratchett book that hasn't made me laugh out loud. GOOD OMENS with Neil Gaiman is one of my favorites.

Jasmine @ Eat Move Write said...

LAMB by Christopher Moore. I nearly cried I laughed so hard.

S R Wood said...

Second the nomination for Three Men in a Boat.

When I discovered Wodehouse I ALSO discovered I could not read anything he'd written in public due to uncontrollable mirth.

T. Anne said...

Jen Lancaster's books had me laughing. They were supposed to be funny right? I jest.

Michelle said...

I agree with the Princess Bride for fiction. For nonfiction, it's a close race between Bill Bryson and Jen Lancaster. They both have the ability to make me recognize bits of myself in their situations, which makes them even funnier.

Ink said...

Certainly Catch-22 is the best funny book of all time, but is it the funniest funny book of all time? Hmmmm...

Lynne Connolly said...

Another vote for Three Men In A Boat (Not Forgetting The Dog).
Also, PG Wodehouse. "Right Ho, Jeeves," should be on everybody's bookshelf.
"As a rule, you see, I'm not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling to Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps."

"Unlike the male codfish, which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons."

I love the Hitchiker's Guide, but there's a thread of melancholy running through it. Pratchett, yes, although I'd plump for "Small gods," as my personal favorite.

Anonymous said...

THE KITE RUNNER

reader said...

Hands down, David Sedaris's, ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY.

Terri said...

My nom for funniest book ever:

KINFLICKS by Lisa Alther

The first line start out, "My family was into death in a really big way . . . " and it never lets up. Makes my family look normal in comparison and that is saying a lot!

Terri
www.whyifearclowns.com

Elspeth Cross said...

I think it was because I loved Adams so much that I found and loved "The Eyre Affair" and sequels (the Thursday Next series) by Jasper Fforde.

Hillary said...

A critique every week? Outstanding.

I still have to go with Christopher Moore's LAMB. Laughed until I cried, repeatedly.

Holly said...

Straight Man by Richard Russo

Frankland by James Whorton Jr

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

The Fudge books by Judy Blume

Rick Daley said...

The funniest novel has got to the THE HITCHIKER'S GUIDE. It also ranks as the funniest trilogy (all five books).

But for me the funniest book is DAVE BARRY'S GREATEST HITS. His style is unmatched, and because he hits closer to every-day life, the humor works on a more personal level.

WORD VERIFICATION: bezooph. I'm not sure, but I bet The Hitchhiker's Guide has a listing.

HWPetty said...

Funniest book of all time:

A FINE AND PLEASANT MISERY by Patrick McManus.

Seriously. The only book I've ever read where I was CRYING with laughter while reading. I had to put it aside to finish giggling before reading the next part.

It's old (1978), but timeless. I remember my mom reading aloud from it while we traveled when I was little.

Rachel @ MWF Seeking BFF said...

Now that I think about it, I'm having trouble calling to mind truly funny novels (haven't read Hitchhiker's Guide; think I missed something with Catch 22. Maybe i was too young when I read it? You know how there are Great Books that people talk about and you're like, what did I miss??? That's how I feel about Catch 22).

In non-fiction, obviously David Sedaris is hilarious. I definitely wouldn't call this the funniest book of all time, but I'm enjoying laughing out loud at Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake.

A Soothsayer said...

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

Emily Anderson said...

I guess I better put Hitchhiker's on the to-read list. The Road comment made me laugh. That gets props for funniest comment (it's so hard to type that word and not want to auto-correct). I'm going with David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead.

Yamile said...

Anne of Green Gables!

Heather said...

A lot of wonderful funny books have already been mentioned, but since I haven't seen this one mentioned yet I had to bring it up: YOUTH IN REVOLT by C.D. Payne. Hilarious, offensive, totally over-the-top. The movie was pretty awful, though.

Sarah said...

For me, it's a tie between YOUTH IN REVOLT by C.D. Payne and HOW I PAID FOR COLLEGE by Marc Acito. It's a coincidence that they both feature RIDICULOUS teenage boys as narrators. Laugh out loud funny, both of them.

John Jack said...

Farley Mowat's 1969 nonfiction The Boat Who Wouldn't Float is the funniest book I've read. Deft usages of an assortment of irony species. A maritime farce.

pws said...

I've got to shout out for "Forrest Gump", the funniest thing I've ever read, beyond a doubt. I can still pick it up this day and get a smile, and find the sweet spots for a good laugh.
And not to worry if you've seen the movie, it's like the book mainly in that the main character is named Forrest Gump.

Stephanie said...

I absolutely love Jenny McCarthy's book Belly Laughs!!! Serious LOL with that one!! But if you haven't been pregnant and given birth, not sure how funny it would be to you!

Kathryn Leigh said...

Catch-22

patlaff said...

I loved GOOD OMENS from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

kathrynjankowski said...

THE WEE FREE MEN by Terry Pratchett!

Vicki Lane said...

Sedaris, Wodehouse, Thurber, and Adams are all gods in the pantheon of humor.

If I have to go with a single book it would be Adams' DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY --audio read by the author.

And Calvin Trillin's ALICE, LET'S EAT has cracked me up on multiple re-readings.

Lisa said...

I agree. Hitchhiker's. Books rarely make me laugh out loud. But that one did it. Over and over again.

PatriciaW said...

Of all time, I'm not sure. But a pretty funny one that I read recently is Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

Katherine said...

A funny book for a writer would be: Fondling Your Muse by John Warner.

This book for writers is absolutely hysterical and one you will read over and over for a good laugh and validation you're not crazy. Or, at least, it's okay to be.

On the 250 page stuff for Mondays--I agree with a yes, on genre comment from J.T. Also, Nathan, these should be edited to the point they are agent-ready; right? I mean it's an agent critique not a writing class, n'est pas?

Thanks!

Amanda said...

Funny, I saw the question in my sidebar on my blog and clicked on the link just to answer "Roald Dahl!" in your comments.

Matilda was my favorite book as a child and my aunt used to call me Matilda just to drive me bonkers. That book was all I could talk about for nearly two years though.

Roald Dahl is still one of my influences.

Sam Hranac said...

What great books already listed! It makes me laugh just remembering them. I'll narrow my choices to three:

THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE
JITTERBUG PERFUME
WEE FREE MEN

I cried from laughing while reading all of these. My kids and I cried together so we had to stop reading at the antics of the of the blue pictsies in the last choice.

teodor cristache said...

The Good Soldier Švejk - Jaroslav Hašek, Three Men in a Boat to Say Nothing of the Dog - Jerome K Jerome, The Little Golden Calf - Ilf and Petrov, there is no doubt about it.

ryan field said...

Anne Tyler's pulitzer prize winner, BREATHING LESSONS.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breathing_Lessons

Kristi Helvig said...

As I've been a follower for close to 2 years now (I think) and don't think I've EVER been the first commenter, I'm not too hopeful about getting critiqued but I can't wait to learn from the winners. Thanks for doing it, Nathan.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I can't pick just ONE! (This is one reason that I would make a bad agent.) So, it's a tie: THE LOST CONTINENT by Bill Bryson, and FATHERHOOD by Bill Cosby. Laugh-out-loud, tears-in-my-eyes funny.

Ella Symons said...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seasonal-Suicide-Notes-Life-Lived/dp/1906021767

Anonymous said...

behind the scenes at the museum

Anonymous said...

My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler. Absolutely hysterical, especially the Overboard chapter. I mean, seriously. Who hasn't gone on a cruise searching for meaningless lust?! And, I love how she refers to the roommate as simply 'Dumb Dumb.' (I had one of those once. Geez. What a dipstick. She thought cooking was two towns in China).

Anonymous said...

"Good Omens," by Gaiman and Pratchett. Hands down. But anything by Pratchett is drop-dead funny.
Second place: "The Collector Collector," by Tibor Fishcher, who also wrote "Under the Frog."

Mike said...

A Confederacy of Dunces. The most humorous protagonist since Don Quixote in my opinion.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

GOOD OMENS by Gaiman and Pratchett. I giggled through the whole thing.

And HITCHHIKERS.

As if I can choose just one, you silly goose.

Johnaskins said...

If you haven't read Light House by William Monahan then you have not yet truly laughed.

hannah said...

WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan.

Anonymous said...

I can't decide between Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, anything with Jeeves and Wooster by PG Wodehouse and Richard Peck's A Long Way from Chicago (YA)

Sharla said...

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner and one of the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum books...can't remember the number but the one where Grandma Mazur pulls out a gun and shoots the Thanksgiving turkey. I was a vegetable I was laughing so hard.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

You mean other than BASTARD HUSBAND: A LOVE STORY? Anything by David Sedaris.

Ink Spills said...

Catch-22 by far!
But I also enjoyed the Princess Diaries (yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh.)

Gem said...

INFINITY WELCOMES CAREFUL DRIVERS - by Grant Naylor. (based on the UK Sit-com Red Dwarf). Funniest and also my fave book.

With Hitchhikers a close second.

Fawn Neun said...

I think "Good Omens" is the only Terry Pratchett book I haven't really loved.

I'll go for Hitchhikers, but only because Confederacy of Dunces took me three tries to get into.

I'd rather read most of the Discworld's than either, but since there are ... 36... 37 of them? I can't say it's just one.

"Skinny Legs and All" is good, too.

Anonymous said...

Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help--Douglas Anthony Cooper

I just finished reading it for the first time, and loved it! Brilliant-laugh-out-loud funny :o)

Luke said...

I love Hitchhiker's Guide- it has to be one of the funniest six-part trilogies ever written. I would also put forward the Collected Humorous Sketches of Mark Twain for consideration. "A Tramp Abroad" is 130 years old now, I know, but anyone who has read "The Awful German Language," or "The Great French Duel" will know what I'm talking about when I say Sam Clemens was a comedic genius.

Elie said...

Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding.
'Soup is bright blue.'

Kate said...

I'm sure there are funnier books out there but I always remember laughing my ass off while reading THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN.

Laraine Eddington said...

My blog makes me laugh every time I read it. http://larainydays.blogspot.com

Joni Rodgers said...

Absurdistan

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Me Talk Pretty One Day

robin said...

Since I have a short memory, I'll go with the funniest I've read in the past year -- CARTER FINALLY GETS IT, by Brent Crawford.

Of course, the second funniest would be MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL, by Kristin Walker.

Pip Hunn said...

The Unexpurgated Code, J.P. Donleavey.

Smacks Wodehouse in the teeth, and introduced me to the concept of refined, gentlemanly swearing at an early age:

"Upon Being Stung On The End Of Your Prick While Pissing On A Golf Course"...

Good times. Good times.

Pen said...

If I need a giggle Terry Pratchett's Diskworld novels can always get me chortling - especially those with the Wee Freemen. Hilarious!

Stephanie McGee said...

The funniest novels I've ever read are Jasper Fforde's books. But then I do have a thing for literary humor. It's more subtle than the bathroom humor of comedies and I really like it that way.

Read them and you'll see why I love them so much.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Narrowing down to three-ish, I enjoyed:
Clive James Unreliable Memoirs
The Henry Root Letters
and the earlier Bill Bryson books

Other Lisa said...

I have a terrible memory for anything involving lists of favorites ("best" "worst" "funniest"). But I second the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series (especially the Well of Lost Souls), and another one I remember at the moment is Cintra Wilson's COLORS INSULTING TO NATURE. OMG. The Sound of Music sequence in that is one of the funniest things I've ever read.

Kelly Wittmann said...

Fiction? Something by Wodehouse or Waugh. Nonfiction? Either BAD MOVIES WE LOVE by Edward Marguiles and Stephen Rebello or IF YOU'RE TALKING TO ME, YOUR CAREER MUST BE IN TROUBLE by Joe Queenan. Queenan's chapter "Mickey Rourke for a Day" made me laugh harder than anything else I have ever read.

Linnea said...

Gerald Durrell's MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS. I especially enjoyed the boy scout fiasco with real dynamite and the floating flags that disintegrated into bad- luck floating crosses.

rjkeller said...

Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse.

Sharen Ford said...

BRING ON THE EMPTY HORSES by David Niven.

Les Edgerton said...

David Sedaris' "Barrel Fever" and no contest. This is laugh-out-loud and fall-off-the-couch on every single page. His books after that are humorous, but he got religion or became more PC and they pale. Second choice would be Chris Moore's "The Island of the Sequined Love Nun."

Bonnie West said...

ROCK ON: AN OFFICE POWER BALLAD by DAN KENNEDY.

!!!! LOVE this guy and his books.....

vickachic said...

I can't believe the SEX LIVES OF CANNIBALS by J. Maarten Troost is not on this list!!!!! I'll love David Sedaris forever and even inspired me to write, but my vote goes to Troost on this one.

christine zoe palau said...

I gotta say "The Ask" by Sam Lipsyte was hilarious from the first sentence to the last. I enjoyed every damned page of that book, albeit with a crooked smile at times. I read it immediately after finishing "Confederacy of Dunces." And while I loved that book, I think "The Ask" was much more entertaining and consistent. But "Notes From Underground" is my all-time funny favorite.

Jil said...

I'll have to go with Three Men in a Boat although all I remember is that it make me laugh out loud. That was long ago though and my sense of humor may have changed.
There have been others but the titles evade me at the moment.
I hope the person who voted for Kiterunner was joking although when I hear what people laugh at on tv nothing should surprise me.

Sally Jo said...

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. I've read it over and over and laugh every time.

Dixon Bennett Rice said...

Check out Sarah Vowell's ASSASSINATION VACATION - the lady makes history knee-slapping funny. Or I'd jump in the Way Back Machine and read THE GANG THAT COULDN'T SHOOT STRAIGHT.

As an aside, I get this blog by email and happened to be in my email account with this one popped up. Already 113 comments. Don't think I'm every gonna make #1. Shucks.

Rollie Raleigh said...

Catch 22; A Confederacy of Dunces; Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. Hitch Hikers Guide was quite funny, but since it did not start as a book, I opted for those irreverent choices.

P.A.Brown said...

The one book I go back to regularly to is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Tricia said...

David Sedaris for nonfiction. "Naked" in particular. I laughed for so long without a breath, I thought I'd die.

Forrest Gump for fiction. Funnier than the movie.

--Deb said...

Anything by P.G. Wodehouse that have Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. They're always hilarious.

I always laugh out-loud while reading Connie Willis' "To Say Nothing of the Dog" (Or her "Bellwether.")

Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books always make me giggle, too.

Oh, and when I was reading Quinn Cumming's "Notes from the Underwire" last summer? I had to keep holding a pillow in front of my face to keep from waking the rest of the family up with all the laughing.

Milo James Fowler said...

The Princess Bride, hands down! I laugh out loud every time I try to read it...

Andrea said...

I'm going to second:

'My Horizontal Life' -
Chelsea Handler (I have never laughed at her live stuff, but her books are hilarious)
&
'A Clockwork Orange' - Burgess

I'm also going to add 'Snuff' - Chuck Palahniuk

Caroline Starr Rose said...

A three-way tie between A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, and FUDGE-A-MANIA.

Anonymous said...

Dr Fegg's Encyclopeadia Of All World Knowledge by Terry Jones and Michael Palin , plus you cant beat P.J O'Rourke's The Bachelor Home Companion for a good gaffaw .

Anonymous said...

Dr Fegg's Encyclopeadia Of All World Knowledge by Terry Jones and Michael Palin , plus you cant beat P.J O'Rourke's The Bachelor Home Companion for a good gaffaw .

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I have to add one more: THE SACRED DIARY OF ADRIAN PLASS, AGED 37 3/4.

gloomy girl said...

I vote for Frank Portman's King Dork (plus it's a great band book!)

Tori said...

I kept getting strange looks when I read The Stupidest Angel by
Christopher Moore because I was laughing so hard so often. I nominate that.

Anonymous said...

Hands down, Hunter Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". Also Fielding's "Bridget Jones Diary". Wodehouse of course, Princess Bride certainly and a book I read from the library 20 years and am STILL trying to find again about. . .I don't even remember, but it was flat hilarious! Dang!
Chris Carney

jen-lehmann said...

There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom by Louis Sachar. I love all his books, but this one made me laugh most consistently.

I know there have been others recently that have made me laugh out loud frequently, but I'm not remembering the titles at the moment.

A Paperback Writer said...

Chalk me up for another vote for Hitchikers' Guide To The Galaxy.

wendy said...

About five or six years ago I read a book by a female British author so hilarious I laughed my way through a day of severe back pain. Can't recall the title or author name though. The second funniest book, which I'm currently reading, is Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. There were several lol moments especially at the beginning. Lost Continent is a very sardonic read.

Sommer Leigh said...

Great timing because I now have an answer to this question. Last night I finished Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta and it is HYSTERICAL. I kept my husband up with my constant squealing and tittering. I had tears in my eyes. It is one of the best books ever.

Also, I love Melina Marchetta, but I would not have called Jellicoe Road "hysterical." Francesca was. *love*

Sarah said...

Hitchhikers Guide, hands down!
I nearly squealed it out loud as soon as I read the blog title :D

Ann Marie Wraight said...

I would have to put these three in the top positions.

#1 - Tom Sharpe and virtually EVERYTHING written by him (Porterhouse Blue, Indecent Exposure, Wilt, Ancestral Vices etc...) whatever he writes gets me sniggering in a very Brit upperclass manner.

#2 - Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy causes me working class/lower middle class joviality.

#3 - John Mortimer and his RUMPOLE series (also televised as a series by the BBC) is simply middle middle class/lower upper middle class fruity and foxy fun.

You said THE funniest but I can't really choose one - it depends on which social class we're talking about..... :)

Colonel Travis said...

As the aforementioned forum questioner, this is great to see so many suggestions.

Thanks for turning it into a blog post, Nathan.

Anonymous said...

Richard Powell's DON QUIXOTE USA is hilarious. I wish it was back in print. I'd buy a dozen copies to give away. Wodehouse was a genius. Also, Kingsley Amis' LUCKY JIM is pretty darn funny.

Nathan Bransford said...

Anon-

I'm working on DON QUIXOTE, hopefully we'll be able to get it back out there!

Nancy Coffelt said...

David Sedaris is a no brainer for me but I also laughed out loud at parts of Good Omens. Hogfather was another one that made me spit diet Dr. Pepper.

Sarah said...

Oh, sorry to double post, BUT!
I still stand by Hitchhikers, but Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer is brilliant (though written young), and anything by Terry Pratchett... still, I don't think either can touch anything by Douglas Adams :)

Sam Albion said...

Ecce Homo- by Friedrich Nietzsche- gets my vote for the funniest book of all-time... it's laugh-out-loud funny, and completely unintentionally so... includes chapters entitled "why I am so wise", and "why I am so clever"... who could not love ole Freddy?

Cealarenne said...

I Hate Myself and Want to Die - the 52 Most Depressing Songs. No, it's not a story, but maybe it should be. You want funny, go no further.

Ann said...

I don't think Dave Barry is getting enough credit here. BIG TROUBLE probably made me laugh more than any other book I've ever read. Second for me would be Richard Russo's STRAIGHT MAN. I also agree with anything by David Sedaris, although my favorite is DRESS YOUR FAMILY IN CORDUROY AND DENIM.

June Sobel said...

A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES!!

cwsherwoodedits said...

Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions.

Matt Heppe said...

1) Hitchhikers
2) Lamb

Love 'em both.

A Novel Woman said...

Anything by Bill Bryson and David Sedaris. They are both milk out the nose funny.

Actually I'll have to put Bill at number one since for years, my children banished me from reading his books in public. My loud guffaws embarrassed them too much.

Lydia Sharp said...

I'm currently reading SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU by Peter Cameron, on recommendation from Le R, and let me tell you, this shit is damn funny. Just saying.

wendy said...

I was thrilled to read in today's post, Nathan, that you intend to make every Monday page critique day. I really struggle with narrative, but I'm desperate to get my ideas out there in novel format. I find that the inspirations I've had over the years have helped a lot - when I keep them in mind - and I want to share in the hope they might help others. But I'm continually stymied by, apparently, poor narrative. Non-fiction is not an option as I have no platform or credentials; and, besides, showing ideas in story format can make them easier to assimiliate.

So, again, a big thank you, Nathan.

Anonymous said...

Just did a search, can't believe no one mentioned Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis; less well known, maybe even funnier, his novel The Joyous Season

also: Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

Curtis said...

Funniest book in my humble opinion, HOW I BECAME STUPID by Martin Page.

Honorable mentions to Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS and anything from Kurt Vonnegut.

sooper said...

Jerome Klapka Jerome's Three Men in a boat (to say nothing of the dog)

Clare WB said...

Most recent--but not that new(!) "A Confederacy of Dunces". Oldies but goodies: anything by Vonnegut or Thurber.

karen wester newton said...

I cannot possibly limit myself to one book. I will nominate authors instead. Wodehouse is first, with carl Hiaason and Janet Evanovitch tied for second.

Tiana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wow. I found Hitchhiker's amusing... but I had a really hard time thinking of other books that made me laugh. I didn't find Catch-22 LOL--just oddly amusing.

Actually. I got it. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and then Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. I only really tend to laugh when I'm almost ready to cry. I adore comic relief. And I went into hysterics with each of these.

Tiana said...

Dave Barry's BABIES AND OTHER HAZARDS OF SEX was a riot! I also loved the one he did about computers (may have been called lost in cyberspace??).

Someone mentioned Janet Evanovich in one of the early comments...I think she's been really phoning the latest ones in! I was so disappointed with 14 I haven't even bothered to read 15. There are funny and/or interesting things here and there but IMO the series is starting to have major pacing issues and she adds a lot of unnecessary bits. I guess it starts to happen when you make it that far along in a series!

Creaves said...

Jasper Fforde's books. Hilarious and specifically written for a literary audience.

And, of course, The Princess Bride.

Amber Argyle-Smith said...

Chickens in the Headlights by Matthew Buckley.

Megan said...

"Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich. I started bending page corners back on all hilarious parts, but by the time I was finished, the book was shaped like a "greater than" math symbol!

Elliot Grace said...

...anything written by Christopher Moore

Jena said...

I recall laughing more at Happiness by Will Ferguson than perhaps any other book. (The protagonist: an editor in NYC. Premise: He publishes a self-help book that actually does everything claims.)

Amy Kinzer said...

I agree with others who chose Helen Fielding, Jen Lancaster, and David Sedaris. All very funny and I'm immediately placing Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my list.

My choice is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I love it when he walks in the casino and it's a cop convention. Good stuff.

Mira said...

Every Monday a critique!! Yay! That's fantastic. Thanks for doing that, Nathan! It's like a slice of what you give your clients - and I really appreciate it.

Like some other posters, I do have some questions about the selection process. But I guess it's good try things out and see what works best...I did wonder if the selection needs to be random, though....it's fair of you, Nathan, that's for sure, but there could be some benefits to selecting pieces....just a thought.

This post is very cool - I love funny books, and I haven't heard of half of these.

I forgot about Evanovich - she really is a fantastic writer - quick, sharp, funny. I also loved Bridget Jones - there are alot of chick lit books that are funny. Meg Cabot can be pretty funny.

Wodehouse, of course. Although he's more amusing than laugh out loud. Someone mentioned Thurbur.

Oscar Wilde can be funny. The Importance of Being Ernest is still one of my very favorite funny/clever things ever written.

Pratchett is my total favorite, though, and Going Postal is his best so far, imho.

mvs said...

"Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome

April Wendy Hollands said...

I never really 'got' Hitchhikers Guide, so I'm going with a book called 'e' by Matt Beaumont. Not sure if it ever made it to the shores of America...

G said...

"The Cruel Shoes" by Steve Martin.

yamx said...

It's either one of the Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett (Hogfather, if I have to choose just one), or The Old Man and Mr. Smith by Sir Peter Ustinov. (The latter is the story of God and Satan taking a trip around Earth to see how things are going. It's utterly hilarious, but also very insightful.)

Sorry, can't narrow it down any further than that... The Hitchhiker is also a strong contender, though I like Adams' Detective Agency books even more...

Elie said...

Also the 'Mr Gum' series by Andy Stanton. Not sure about funniest of all time, but very, very funny.

Johnny Noir said...

THE MASTER AND MARGARITA, hands down. It makes you think & cracks you up, then makes you think some more. Plus it gives new meaning to the phrase "...All Time" (that's actually quite funny, if you think about it).

Bryan Allain said...

Free Range Chickens by Simon Rich (an SNL writer). Unbelievably funny.

Trish said...

My Wicked Wicked Ways, by Errol Flynn was one of the funniest book I ever read. Oh, and Ramona the Pest by Beverley Cleary and Matilda by Roald Dahl.

Zoe Winters said...

I need to read Hitchhiker's Guide. It's just so freaking Tome-like, it intimidates the hell out of me. Maybe if I got it on my Kindle I could do it. I used to not think I liked Sci Fi stuff, but I like CERTAIN Sci Fi, and I think Hitchhiker's Guide falls into that category. (Saw movie, loved it. Husband loves book. I love him. Seems logical.)

Katie Macalister makes me LOL though.

Elizabeth said...

How can I choose? It's Thursday and I never could get the hang of Thursdays!
Ah, come on - that was funny. How could I resist?
I agree: HITCHHIKER'S (including the forward!)

Ishta Mercurio said...

Oh, another good one was THE WAR OF DON EMMANUEL'S NETHER PARTS by Louis de Bernier (and I apologise if I got the capitalization wrong in his name).

Aaron e Anderson said...

Princess Bride (yes I know it was a movie) was pretty amusing.

Magdalena Munro said...

CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES! No contest!

WitLiz Today said...

Funniest book I've ever read, "Moby Dick."

"But as for Queequeg—why, Queequeg sat there among them—at the head of the table, too, it so chanced; as cool as an icicle. To be sure I cannot say much for his breeding. His greatest admirer could not have cordially justified his bringing his harpoon into breakfast with him, and using it there without ceremony; reaching over the table with it, to the imminent jeopardy of many heads, and grappling the beefsteaks towards him. But that was certainly very coolly done by him, and every
one knows that in most people's estimation, to do anything coolly is to do it genteelly."

“In the first place, it may be deemed almost superfluous to establish the fact, that among people at large, the business of whaling is not accounted on a level with what are called the liberal professions. If a stranger were introduced into any miscellaneous metropolitan society, it would but slightly advance the general opinion of his merits, were he presented to the company as a harpooneer, say; and if in emulation of the naval officers he should append the initials S. W. F. (Sperm Whale Fishery) to his visiting card, such a procedure would be deemed pre-eminently presuming and ridiculous.”

More funny:

Jean Shepherd

"I had woven a tapestry of obscenity that as far as I know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan. "

Erma Bombeck

Do you know what you call those who use towels and never wash them, eat meals and never do the dishes, sit in rooms they never clean, and are entertained till they drop? If you have just answered, "A house guest," you're wrong because I have just described my kids.

Garrison Keillor

Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.

Malissa said...

Janet Evanovich's Eleven on Top.

Not that I'm a jelly donut with the filling squishing out or anything, but...

Jenny said...

The Obnoxious Jerks--a teeny-bopper book long out of print, but sarcastic and hilarious.

But I really love Code of the Woosters by Wodehouse as well.

Karen A. Chase said...

"The Bear Went Over the Mountain" by William Kotzwinkle. The story of a bear who finds a manuscript in the woods. He takes it to New York and the publishing world falls all over him while turning a blind eye to the fact he's a bear. Written in first person from the bear's perspective. Funniest book - I laughed out loud and so did everyone I know who borrowed it.

Bonnie West said...

A Bliss Case by Michael Aaron Rockland

Julie said...

Running a bit late to this conversation, but for me nothing can top Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The blend of wit and poignancy is an unbeatable combination, and it will always be THE book I wish I'd written.

(Love your blog, by the way. Finally mustered the nerve to comment after a year.)

NanC said...

One of my favorite funny books is called Handling Sin by Michael Malone. I laughed from beginning to end!!!

Dana Stabenow said...

"The divorce thing got started on Christmas Day. Daddy always said that Christmas is a joyous season when suicides and hold-ups and shoplifting and like that reach a new high and that the best place to spend the whole thing is a Moslem country. Mom says he's right about that, if about nothing else."--Patrick Dennis, The Joyous Season

John Darrin said...

The Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser.

Sara Martin said...

I laugh constantly when I read Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. That Kilgore Trout says the darndest things.

Ulysses said...

Anything by Pratchett makes me laugh, so it's hard to pick out just one of his books. But: Witches Abroad, at the moment.

Hitchhiker's Guide is good.

The Bandy Papers, especially That's Me In the Middle, by Donald Jack. World War I as seen by a Canadian flying ace who just doesn't get it.

Ruby Jameson said...

Without feathers, Woody Allen. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hitchhiker's was hilarious! As for non-fiction, I have to say I never laughed more when reading than with David Niven's The Moon's a Balloon.

Jen P said...

Non-Fiction: McCarthy's Bar - McCarthy

Ficton: Lake Wobegon Days - Keillor (who else can make a time warp in a small town to get the cushions and house tidied up before Mom comes home or have a wife left at the gas station seem so utterly believable)

Though the question made me realise, I don't read a lot of humour. A Sedaris is waiting on my TBR stack.

Crystal said...

Cooking with Fernat Branca. Easily the most side-splitting funny book ever.

Erin Cabatingan said...

I thought Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians was really funny. Fit my sense of humor very well.

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