I love to laugh; who doesn’t? I seek out funny people all the time, whether it’s when making friends or securing that coveted spot next to my witty brother-in-law at Thanksgiving. This is also something I do when I’m deciding what I want to read. Here are some wonderful, witty authors that I highly recommend:
- Erma Bombeck
Miss Erma, of course, was the Queen of Funny. She wrote about everyday life as a wife and mother, and put a delightful spin on it that made even the most mundane of tasks—like trying to get something out of her teeth with nary a toothpick nor dental floss in sight—seem like a hilarious adventure. She has influenced me more than any other writer out there, and her books on my shelf are falling apart from repeated readings.
Genres: Humor/(Loosely) Non-Fiction
Recommended Read: If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? (1978)
Author Quote: “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.”
- Carl Hiaasen
Hiaasen has spread his wit in both the general fiction and young adult genres. His books often carry a political message, but you might miss it amid the laugh-out-loud humor. He has preached for environmentalism, against Disney, and has chronicled his dismal golf game. Alas, Hiaasen’s brilliant stories don’t seem to translate well to screen—his book Strip Tease was a box office failure in 1996, and Hoot didn’t fare much better in 2006. However, consuming his humor in novel form is highly recommended.
Genres: General Fiction/Children/YA/Satire
Recommended Read: Sick Puppy (2001)
Author Quote: “The first rule of hurricane coverage is that every broadcast must begin with palm trees bending in the wind.”
- Berkeley Breathed
I grew up with the expectation that the funny pages would make me laugh. Amid clunkers like Family Circus and Hagar the Horrible, Breathed’s Bloom County always delivered. A different medium from a traditional book, sure, but Breathed proved that visual humor could work in harmony with textual humor. It was his accidental additions to the comic strip—a penguin named Opus and a cat named Bill, both slated to be temporary characters—where he truly struck comedy gold.
Recommended Read: Babylon (1986)
Author Quote: “I ignore Hallmark holidays. And this comes from a guy who has sold a million Opus greeting cards.”
- Augusten Burroughs
Burroughs has not had an easy life, and what I love about him most is his ability to laugh at the absurdity of his childhood and his own adult demons. His mother left him in custodial care of her psychiatrist, a man so bizarre he used to tell fortunes based on toilet bowl deposits. Running With Scissors put Burroughs on the literary map, but I’ve found his battle with alcoholism (as chronicled in Dry) and his autobiographical glimpses into his everyday life (Magical Thinking: True Stories) to be among his best, and funniest, works.
Recommended Read: Dry (2011)
Author Quote: “Ad people don’t care where you came from. . . . You could have a crawl space under your kitchen floor filled with little girls’ bones and as long as you can dream up a better Chuck Wagon commercial, you’re in.”
- Jeff Strand
Strand has the distinction of being the funniest writer in the horror genre today. He dabbles in both fiction for grown-ups and young adult novels, gleefully cracking jokes as the terror unfolds. There’s a reason why he’s asked to emcee the HWA’s World Horror Convention every year: consider him the Billy Crystal of the Stoker Awards.
Genres: Horror/YA Horror/Comedy
Recommended Read: Fangboy (2011)
Author Quote: “If I ever feel the need to make up a word to create my own genre, you have my permission to stab me. Not hard, but enough to break the skin.”
There you have it: my favorite funny people. Who do you like to read? Leave your comments, concerns (and yes, I left David Sedaris off the list on purpose), and insights below!