When in search of a daily dose of comedy, books are frequently shoved aside. Unlike podcasts, television sketches and movies, books do frequently struggle to provide the same small, instant hits of side-splitting hilarity. After all, the book’s lack of physical imagery makes it considerably more challenging for authors to trigger the same strong emotions that a nostalgic episode of Blackadder can achieve within just 5 minutes.
So why throw down the remote/ IT Crowd box set? Reading is an insular activity, so when a writer does successfully puncture the silence that accompanies such an endeavour with your uncontrollable giggles, you know you have found something truly special- like a personal joke between you and the writer. So, for an alternative method to tickle your funny bone here is a list of some of the best funny books ranging from comedian’s autobiographies, to comedy history, to comedic works of fiction. Be prepared to stir those laughing gases!
- Stephen Fry, More Fool Me: Stephen Fry is delicious to read full stop. Alongside his recently released bio, Fry has also published numerous pieces of funny fiction, as well as previous memoirs of his life which are all strongly recommended for any reader with an appetite for wit, satire and intelligent conversation. His new bio is endearingly truthful, with matter-of-fact descriptions of his previous battles with cocaine, his identity as a Jew and a homosexual which made him feel he would never be normal, and his encounters with the Royal family. No one can see his flaws better than Fry himself, which is noted in one of my favourite lines of the book: ‘Oh dear I am an arse’. His mental frailty shows that he is still clearly unhappy in his own skin, but so honestly so. Engaging, arresting, honest, and endearing- this bio only confirms my love for Britain’s most flamboyant upper-class comedian.
- Tina Fey, Bossypants: Moving across the Pacific to our English-speaking cousins… Some may know her from the hilarious Rom-com Date Night alongside Steve Carrell; others may know her as the clueless Liz Lemon from American TV show 30 Rock. But wherever you know her, I’m sure you also know that she’s hilariously funny, as this American actress and comedian has certainly been making quite the impression in TV and Film in the last few years, swiping up award after award. Now she’s been handed a Grammy for her recent Bio, Bossypants. This sharp-witted book addresses every aspect of Tina Fey’s life, from the ‘Dear Internet’ chapter which she treats as a happy occasion to eviscerate a few well-chosen haters, to a small reflection on her awkward teenage years, full of embarrassment, and a fish-out-of-water stint at University. It’s a modest and down-to-earth book, with a wonderful blend of spiky humour, critical thinking alongside curious moments of introspection.
- George & Weeden Grossmith, The Diary of a Nobody: Now we’re skipping back in time to the Victorian Era, where this splendidly absurd book takes the crown for never being out of print since its publishing in 1892. This hilariously ridiculous fiction consists of the irrelevant and idiotic diary entries of… well, a complete nobody. The character’s utter insignificance within the world makes the novel all the funnier, as he is clearly oblivious to anything of any importance within society at the time. The novel also doubles up as a great piece of social history, for anyone who enjoys following the haughty-taughty life of an upper-class Victorian.
- Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal: The birth and life of Jesus has of course been well chronicled. But Christopher Moore has decided to fill in the blank space of Jesus’s life which is rarely focused upon- his childhood years. Through creating Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, Moore constructs a divinely hilarious modern telling of Jesus’s earlier life. Religion is wittily merged with tales of remarkable journeys, magical healings, a bit of Kung Fu, demons and a few hot babes. Who could have guessed that Jesus Christ could have been such a racy youth back in his time?
- Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks for all the Fish: This is the fourth book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, and in my opinion one of the funniest. Its title is taken from the message left by the dolphins when they departed planet Earth just before it was completely demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass- it’s all explained in the first book! As you can tell from the teeny plot summary above, the comedy in this fictional series is off-the-wall to say the least. It’s utterly loopy and delightfully fun to read for any lovers of completely random and fantastically silly humour