Finding funny novels is very, very hard. Every publisher describes any book with even a single joke as "funny," and being funny in print is much more difficult than being funny on film where you have sight gags and timing to aid you. That's why when we find a genuinely hilarious book, we share it with as many people as possible in hopes that the author will make so much money they'll keep it up. It's just too rare a commodity to let go to waste.
Below are the ten funniest novels we've come across. If you know one we missed, please tell us in the comments, as we'd love to find some more!
Notaro's books of humorous essays should be required college reading for any creative writing course. If nothing else, to help show you all you have to look forward to in your career as a professional writer. Her first novel, a fictionalized account of her move to the Pacific Northwest and trying to fit in, isn't quite as side-splitting as her nonfiction, but it's worth the read just for the scene where she joins a gothic book club expecting Mary Shelley and gets Practical Magick. Yes, magick with a "k."
Yes, comic books count as novels. Anything good enough for Alan Moore should be good enough for you. Garth Ennis did this hilarious and definitely R-rated send-up of the superhero comic where a single mom who moonlights as a prostitute is given superpowers in a dare by an alien. It contains the greatest sodomy joke of all time, a sentence that we cannot believe we got paid to type.
We'd expect nothing but comedy gold from a Cracked.com writer, and that's what you get. We only had to read three pages of sarcastic paranormal horror story before we knew that it was the perfect gift for the most deranged members of our social circle. You probably won't like this one unless there is something completely wrong with you.
Ellis is a comic genius that has finally turned to prose. Crooked Little Vein is a detective tale that starts with its hero matching wits with a rat that is pissing in his coffee, and then heads out into America to seek a lost Constitution misplaced by Richard Nixon in a whorehouse. We had to clean soda off of the computer screen before we finished the first page.
Neil Gaiman can't really be called funny, even though we're at a loss to think of a single work that didn't have at least one brilliant joke. Conversely, Terry Pratchett writes some of the funniest books around, but picking one Discworld novel is impossible. We compromised on Good Omens, which was a collaboration that heavily parodies the Omen. Several very helpful theories are put forth in the novel, such as how all albums left in a car eventually become The Best of Queen, and how freeway design is actually a plot by Hell to increase frustration in the world.
To paraphrase Kathleen Madigan, Amanda McKittrick Ros was hilarious, but she had no idea why. Her husband self-published her novel as a tenth wedding anniversary present, and it eventually became the greatest unintentional literary comedy ever written. Tolkien and Lewis would hold reading competitions to see who could get the furthest through the book without laughing. Why is it so funny? Here's a sample of her writing style:
"Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!"
Seriously, she's like a real-life Fawful without the rocket hat. The best part is, while finding a physical copy of Irene Iddesleigh costs over $100, it's available on Kindle now for free!
Based on Millington's acclaimed Web site chronicling his relationship with his girlfriend, the full-length book version more than lives up to the legacy he built. Nothing appeals more than a dysfunctional relationship that manages to survive, or reading as the narrator is driven to pants-soiling panic while his girlfriend turns a run for Chinese food into a white-knuckle car chase when she spots the van of the roofers she suspects stole their broom.
Do we really need to say anything about this one? Well, one thing... has anyone else realized that if you wrote "Don't Panic" on an iPad case and made Wikipedia your browser's homepage, then you would totally have the actual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?
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Jesus has been many things, savior, rock star, vampire hunter, but this is the first time that he's been the straight man in a buddy adventure. Of course, every Christopher Moore book should be on a list like this, but our hearts will always belong to Christ's best friend Biff, and the journey they take across the Orient in search of spiritual enlightenment, kung fu and, in Biff's case, sexual chocolate. Also available in a super-fancy Bible-style version for the extra dose of blasphemy.
Most people were probably expecting Catch-22 here, but honestly we've never gotten even a quarter of the way through the book. We just don't get it. While we're willing to admit that Joseph Heller undoubtedly wrote the more significant novel, Hooker wrote the funnier one. It's a masterpiece of language, absurdism and prankishness that would make Ken Kesey blush.