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Modern Humorist's "Rough Draft: Pop Culture the Way it Almost Was" is finally available.
October 22, 2001 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Modern Humorist's "Rough Draft: Pop Culture the Way it Almost Was" is finally available. A few samples are here. And while I like the Modern Humorist and enjoyed their first book I'm partial to The Onion's "Our Dumb Century" as the funniest.book.ever. As I brace for the sarcastic responses, what do you think is the funniest book ever written?
posted by Sinner (60 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Pancakes, Pancakes!
posted by msacheson at 2:41 PM on October 22, 2001


the importance of being earnest.

if plays can't count, then I'm in for three men in a boat.
posted by rebeccablood at 2:54 PM on October 22, 2001


if plays can't count, then I'm in for three men in a boat.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis' "sequel" novel is a hoot, too.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:12 PM on October 22, 2001


OK OK here goes again:

Getting Even, Without Feathers and Side Effects.

Bill Bryson's Notes From A Small Island makes me laugh out loud every reread.

And Stephen Fry's The Liar is a good one. As is Good Omens.

Oh and The Meaning of Liff.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:14 PM on October 22, 2001


Three men in a boat. Especially if you can get an edition with Fredericks' illustrations. My ex-mother-in-law lost my edition with same somewhere in Europe *sigh*.
posted by djfiander at 3:14 PM on October 22, 2001


Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Hilarious. Also, as posted above, "Good Omens" is very funny.
posted by rosecrans at 3:17 PM on October 22, 2001


Oh, and there was this incredibly whack book called Snail by Richard Miller which is now out of print. It involved, among other things, an elixir of everlasting life given to Hitler by The Wandering Jew, and the protagonist changing into a five foot snail and having sex with the goddess Athena. Oh and a flaming Tooth Fairy.

Weird!

But funny. And an old edition I have has cover art by Clive Barker (!)
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:27 PM on October 22, 2001


Cruel Shoes always makes me laugh.

And apparently I'm not the only one..
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:33 PM on October 22, 2001


Confederacy of Dunces.


Is the funniest book ever written.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:42 PM on October 22, 2001


It's a little-known fact, but the Oxford English Dictionary is demonstrably the funniest book ever written. I say demonstrably because everyone who has ever read it all the way through has been cackling uncontrollably ever since....

(Hell, Sinner asked for sarcastic responses, didn't he (or she)? Surely someone can top me, though.)
posted by mattpfeff at 3:56 PM on October 22, 2001


Personally, Mediagate is the funniest book I've ever read.
Some of the writers have gone on to do work for the Simpsons and Futurama.
It will be hard to find nowadays, but I don't know how many time I ended up laughing myself to near unconsciousness.
posted by Grum at 4:08 PM on October 22, 2001


Surely someone can top me, though.

And that is accomplished by tepping on the brake, tupid. :-P

Catch-22 had me busting a gut in places. Importance of Being Earnest ranks up there too somewhere.
posted by ethmar at 4:29 PM on October 22, 2001


How many old fogies here besides me remember Max Schulman the author of I Was a Teenage Dwarf, Barefoot Boy With Cheek, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and Rally Round The Flag, Boys? He was a terrible punster, but his books always made me laugh out loud.
posted by MrBaliHai at 4:36 PM on October 22, 2001


Thorne Smith's "The Nightlife of the Gods". Although Maxx Barry's "Syrup" is also hilarious.
posted by nicwolff at 4:43 PM on October 22, 2001


Jerome K. Jerome! woot!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is quite funny by spells as well.

I must, however, also place my vote with Confederacy of Dunces. I saw a musical (!) stage production of it once at LSU in Baton Rouge that was a brilliant adaptation--pity it never got a wider audience.
posted by rushmc at 4:49 PM on October 22, 2001


At Swim-Two-Birds is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud and astonish me, which can't be bad.
posted by holgate at 4:56 PM on October 22, 2001


Have to agree with Hitchhiker and Confederacy as by-default members of the pantheon, but as I said in tresponse to someone mentioning Getting Even and Without Feathers in the thread which spawned this one,

... I've read Getting Even and Without Feathers and on a whole lot of levels think that ODC is better in terms of complexity, artistry and most of all, sheer number of quality jokes - that's the hardest part at all.

It's the density of the book that just amazes me. I've probably read it a half-dozen times and literally every time read something which I'd missed - sometimes because I didn't get the joke, but more often because it was offhandedly tossed in a margin somewhere or something.
posted by Sinner at 5:02 PM on October 22, 2001


Anything by Peter DeVries at his best. No one could write dialogue like that. No one ever spoke dialogue like that, but no matter.

I remember meeting the editor of my first novel, and telling him I wanted to be as good as Peter DeVries some day; he nodded, sagely, then said quietly "you might feel differently if you saw his sales figures."

Humor books are an incredibly hard sell now as well - most don't sell for squat unless they have some sort of cross-platform support, like Sedaris (NPR) Barry (newspapers) and the Onion / Modern Humorist (that internet thing.)
posted by lileks at 5:04 PM on October 22, 2001


I highly recommend My Uncle Oswald, by Roald Dahl.

It contains one of the greatest premises ever. Becoming a millionaire by collecting sperm from 51 of the early 20th centuries' greatest minds and selling it to rich widows and forgotten wives.

Brilliantly filthy. I like it!
posted by the biscuit man at 5:06 PM on October 22, 2001


Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman; Samuel Beckett's Watt, S.J.Perelman's Eastward Ho, Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, Fran Lebowitz's Social Studies and Redmond O'Hanlons In Trouble Again are all hilarious and infinitely rereadable.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:18 PM on October 22, 2001


The author didn't intend it as humor, but my vote goes to How to Good-Bye Depression
posted by marknau at 5:51 PM on October 22, 2001


yeah, marknau, any book that can enable a man to "make #### three times in succession" and "shoot out his immaterial fiber" must be a laugh.
ick, I feel dirty
posted by nprigoda at 6:06 PM on October 22, 2001


The Bible
posted by sunsolid at 6:21 PM on October 22, 2001


youth in revolt by c.d. payne
naked by david sedaris

and the person who said humor books are a hard sell right now is correct. perennial was to publish a collection of my "humorous" short stories and essays in june, but the date got bumped once to october, and again 'til "next spring." but what the hell -- it was a bunch of plagarized old spy magazine articles anyway.
posted by double+good at 7:12 PM on October 22, 2001


I've seen projectile vomiting, urinating & defecating as direct results of reading FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS...Hunter S Thompson is certifiable; course,I'm well now.
posted by Mack Twain at 7:24 PM on October 22, 2001


The grandaddy of comic meta-novels, The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy. You can read the whole dang thang here.
posted by
ferris at 7:25 PM on October 22, 2001


Oops, Tristam Shandy online is courtesy of Blackmask.com.

By the way, there's an online excerpt from Confederacy of Dunces at this site.
posted by
ferris at 7:34 PM on October 22, 2001


God bless 'em: John Fante, especially The Road To Los Angeles and P. G. Wodehouse, particularly Very Good Jeeves.
posted by katexmcfly at 7:50 PM on October 22, 2001


Good Omens, by Neil Gaimann and Terry Pratchett. I've read this book ten or fifteen times and it makes me laugh out loud every time. I'm always finding something new I hadn't noticed before. Think Hitchhiker's Guide does the Apocalypse.
posted by krakedhalo at 8:17 PM on October 22, 2001


Robert Benchley, Beachcomber(both only available in anthologies)and Auberon Waugh's Private Eye Diaries are all crippling too.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:35 PM on October 22, 2001


Dear God yes, Hunter S. Thompson. Fear & Loathing blew my brain out.

Mark Leyner is worth mentioning here. I've only read Et Tu, Babe, but I hear My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist is hardcore as well.
posted by D at 8:41 PM on October 22, 2001


Although I don't think any of them compare with ODC, while on the humor-book topic, I'd like to add plugs for Jerry Seinfeld's Sein Language, George Carlin's Brain Droppings, Dennis Miller's Brain Droppings, and of course, Jewel's A Night Without Armour.

OK, I never read Jewel's book and yeah, it's a cheap shot, but aside from the Bible reference, I've been disappointed with the sarcastic responses so far...
posted by Sinner at 9:18 PM on October 22, 2001


Dave Barry Dave Barry Dave Barry!

Sorry. I really like Dave Barry. I also salivate over Christopher Durang plays.
posted by brookedel at 10:24 PM on October 22, 2001


I will be absolutely flabbergasted if anyone has heard of Peter Pook, a wonderfully funny English writer. There is no mention of him anywhere outside my local library.

And PG Wodehouse is great; today I like PJ O'Rourke and HST.
posted by emf at 11:08 PM on October 22, 2001



Richard Russo. Straight Man and Nobody's Fool, particularly.
posted by swerve at 11:21 PM on October 22, 2001


Oh, and Christopher Buckley's Wry Martinis.
posted by swerve at 11:27 PM on October 22, 2001


Paul Theroux's Fong and the Indians, included in On the Edge of the Great Rift : Three Novels of Africa, is the funniest piece of fiction I've read.
posted by chinstrap at 2:25 AM on October 23, 2001


I'm with rosecrans, Me Talk Pretty One Day made me scare Midwestern airline passengers by my vigorous shaking (I was =trying= not to laugh out loud, and was much more disturbing) -- even though some of the humor for me comes from the fact that I grew up in Raleigh, I think it's the funniest thing I read in the last year.

Oh, P.J. O'Rourke makes me let out a Mrs. Krabappel-like "HA!". P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde's frothy plays, and Stephen Fry also make me "HA!".
posted by meep at 2:55 AM on October 23, 2001


Consider this another vote for Good Omens, by Neil Gaimann and Terry Pratchett. I've read it many times and it always makes me laugh out loud.
posted by waffleboy at 4:52 AM on October 23, 2001


Confederacy of Dunces--without a doubt.

::rushmc:: You're right about that LSU stage production. The best part? The rollerskaters zooming through the crowd singing "Gloria." They should have made the movie version back then. Unfortunately, Spud's too old to do it now.

(interesting subnote) I've been working on a screenplay for Confederacy of Dunces for seven years. The rights to the movie are owned by a friend of a friend in Dallas, who bought the rights the first time he read the book and said, "Damn, this would make a good movie!" It's the only movie rights he's ever owned or even thought of owning.
posted by ColdChef at 4:56 AM on October 23, 2001


The Reluctant Vampire by Eric Morecambe. Comedy genius.

As well as anything by Spike Milligan.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:44 AM on October 23, 2001


::rushmc:: You're right about that LSU stage production. The best part? The rollerskaters zooming through the crowd singing "Gloria."

I thought the innovative rotating stage was way cool. And the fact that they served Dr. Nut.
posted by rushmc at 6:15 AM on October 23, 2001


I laughed the loudest at Hitchhiker's Guide books, Woody Allen's books, Confederacy of Dunces, yeah, but I read them all when I was a teenager, like 7 million years ago, approximately. Can't think of anything I've read more recently that made me pee my pants in quite the same way, unless it were the occasional dong_resin or Kafkaesque post here.

(And yes I know I'll be going to the Miguel Cardoso Memorial Ring of Dante's Inferno for that reach-around comment, but I'm too sodden to care at the moment)

By the way, I wish you bastards would stop linking to Amazon, unless we can figure out a way to make some mathowie-server-bux out of it.

I mean 'bBastards' as a term of endearment, of course.....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:17 AM on October 23, 2001


Is "reach-around" a term of endearment, too?
posted by ColdChef at 6:31 AM on October 23, 2001


i knew there was one book that had made me wet my jim-jams.

Red Dwarf by Naylor.

Read the part where Rimmer takes his officers exam. I'm nearly crying now thinking about it (or my wet jimmy-jams).
posted by Frasermoo at 6:40 AM on October 23, 2001


More a motion of endearment, ColdChef
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:53 AM on October 23, 2001


(now feeling guilty for leaving out other Big.Funny.MeFites from my comment above)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:06 AM on October 23, 2001


Catch 22
V by Thomas Pynchon
Baked Potatoes - The Pot Smoker Guide to Movies - not a novel, but freakin' hilarious
posted by bob bisquick at 7:13 AM on October 23, 2001


The moon is a balloon by David Niven and Dear me by Peter Ustinov, it makes me smile just to think of these books again.
posted by Tarrama at 7:17 AM on October 23, 2001


"Stavrosthewonderchicken Bastes Himself" - by Stavrosthewonderchicken
posted by Frasermoo at 7:27 AM on October 23, 2001


Self-bukkake : the next poultry-porno rage in Japan.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:31 AM on October 23, 2001


i was going to make a reference to cow & chicken with just a hint of oninism, but i think i shant.
posted by Frasermoo at 7:36 AM on October 23, 2001


*apologies to the Keeper of the Bukakke*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:38 AM on October 23, 2001


Late to the party, but count my votes for Confederacy of Dunces, the first three books of the Hitchhiker trilogy, all of Wodehouse, and Naked by Sedaris (much funnier, IMHO, than the latest one), among others. Sorry if that sounds "me-too"-ish, but obviously many people share the same sensibility.
posted by briank at 8:05 AM on October 23, 2001


::GEEK ALERT::

Last week, I finished a project I started mid-summer. I read the entire Hitchhikers series on my Handspring Visor . But here's the twist: I only read it while I was on the crapper at work. Sorry if that's TMI.

I imagine that the laughter coming from the bathroom gave my coworkers plenty to gossip about.
posted by ColdChef at 8:15 AM on October 23, 2001


And also The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker. I'm too damn lazy to link it.

One of the best passages is a discussion of Shy Kidney Syndrome, a condition the main character was suffering from at work. He would have trouble urinating at a urinal when someone was standing near him, until he solved his problem by imagining peeing all over the person's face. Some great lines about the mental image of his victim sputtering in the stream of urine, his hair being parted by the flow.

gads, cracking me up again.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:00 AM on October 23, 2001


I stopped reading Confederacy of Dunces after a few chapters because it was too depressing for me at the time. Either the tone changes a lot, or I am way out of touch with y'all's sense of humor.

By the way, I asked Neil Gaiman to autograph my copy of Good Omens, and he wrote "Burn this book!" inside the cover.
posted by bingo at 10:17 AM on October 23, 2001


And also The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker.

Nicholson Baker is perhaps the best observer of minutia I've ever seen. Haven't read The Mezzanine, but I read Vox and The Fermata.
posted by rushmc at 3:10 PM on October 23, 2001


I can't quite appreciate how non-Brits get the best jokes in Good Omens: that War is basically a piss-take of Kate Adie; the M25 gag; and so on. Of course, Gaiman wrote all the funniest bits.

[looks round for copy, having not read it in years; realises it's with Herself in Connecticut. damn.]

(And Kafkaesque: I've used that bit of advice from The Mezzanine for about 10 years now, whenever necessary.)
posted by holgate at 3:46 PM on October 23, 2001


Definitely the Tick Omnibus #1 from New England Comics.
posted by basilwhite at 9:04 AM on October 25, 2001


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