A friend of mine is currently writing a non-fiction book into which he is trying to inject some humour. He reckons without the odd laugh here and there the subject matter of the book might be a little bit depressing. His dilemma got me thinking about writers that make me laugh and comedy in literature.
I think lots of people recognise that comedic acting is often more difficult than dramatic acting. Actress Viven Leigh once said, “Comedy is much more difficult than tragedy and much better training, I think. It’s much easier to make people cry than to make them laugh.” The same can be said of writing. To make someone laugh while they are reading, to get the phrasing and the timing right, is enormously difficult.
There are only a handful of authors who have made me laugh out loud. Vintage Tom Sharpe is always a guaranteed laugh as is Roddy Doyle. Some of the funniest writing I’ve ever read is the school nativity play scene in John Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meany. Nancy Mitford can often make me smile as I love that dry arch English sense of humour and Augusten Burroughs has made me smile too. Journalist Liam Fay can be hysterically funny in print – buy Beyond Belief and see what I mean.
So what about you? Who makes you laugh in print? Who are your favourite comedy writers? Anyone you might recommend?