What I like – humor

There are a lot of posts (mine included) about what is wrong with the genre, what sucks about it, why authors are terrible, horrible people, why books suck, why publishers suck, why reviewers suck, why readers suck…well you get the picture.

 

So I’m going to try to start posting about what’s good in the genre.

 

Today I’m going to talk about sense of humor. There are many, too many to count, instances where readers/reviewers/authors/publishers have absolutely no sense of humor. That’s why when I find it, I cling to such like a drowning person. Be it on twitter, tumblr, blogs, and especially in books. Make me laugh and I’ll be your devoted reader.

 

I love humor and great humor in books makes some of the best stories ever. For this reason I love the outrageous and completely ridiculous humor of Dave Barry. Seriously if you haven’t read Big Trouble, you’re missing out. And often humor in romance tries way too hard and never ends up being more than a smile or very small chuckle.

 

But when it works – oh god it’s like a gift with a big shiny bow at Christmas. JL Merrow has a real mastery of comic timing and LB Gregg knows how to write madcap humor. Both of these authors I reach for when I want light and guaranteed to make me laugh. Then there is Rob Rosen. Now this is an author who doesn’t shy away from the extreme and still manages to produce some seriously side splitting humorous events. I still chuckle thinking about the drag queens in Divas Las Vegas.

 

So who are your favorite comedic authors?

What are some of the great funny books you’ve read?

 

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32 thoughts on “What I like – humor

  1. I’m a fan of having humour in the books I read as well. Wit and cleverness especially appeal to me which is why I adore Sir Terry. Naturally. For m/f, I’m a huge fan of Shelly Laurenston. She just cracks me up and I go to her when I’m in the mood for a laugh.

    For m/m, definitely L B Gregg for the same reasons as you Kassa. I also really enjoy Steve Kluger’s humour. He has a deft way of mixing comedy and poignancy which is incredibly moving. It’s just great.

    BTW, you spelt humour wrong. Just sayin’.

    • I spelled it the civilized way. You can spell it your way in the land of criminals.

      I also love Steve Kluger. I tend to laugh my way through his books. I’ve read your great Sir Terry a long time ago but nothing recent. Which would you recommend? Please do not say “all of them.”

      • I’ll have you know that Perth was a free colony. Hmpf!

        And of course all of them. You’re so silly.

        Have you read Going Postal or Marking Money? They feature Moist Van Lipwig and are hilarious. Another great one is the Unseen Academicals – you may need to be a bit more familiar with soccer culture to appreciate that one fully though.

  2. I love humour in books as well – and films, tv and plays. I’ll take comedy over tragedy any day 😀

    I love reading books that are overtly humorous, such as James Lear’s Mitch Mitchell series, but I also love it when the humour sneaks in to an otherwise fairly serious story. For example, I don’t think I’d enjoy JCP’s Psycops series half as much if it weren’t for Vic’s self-deprecating sense of humour.

    I think humour is one of those subgenres that’s impossible to get right for everyone, though. I recently bought an m/m novel that has been reviewed as hysterically funny, yet for me it was a DNF. The humour seemed to rely on slapstick and grossly exaggerated and rather unpleasant characters – I prefer more subtle humour – satire and humour that derives from wordplay and the unexpected. As you say, JL Merrow is superb at this kind of humour. After reading one of her short stories for the first time, I sent her an email to let her know how hysterical I found it, and we’ve become firm friends. Now I get to beta read all her stuff for her 😀

    Other writers I’ve found funny at times, although they don’t write humour exclusively: Clare London, Anne Brooke (The Hit List), Marshall Thornton (The Perils of Praline) and ZA Maxfield (Stirring Up Trouble). And then there’s those masters of comedy: Ethan Day and Lenore Black 😀

    Oh yeah, and I love Terry Pratchett too!

    • Hi there! I think you hit the nail on the head with the following comment “I think humour is one of those subgenres that’s impossible to get right for everyone, though.”

      Some of the books you found very funny I didn’t think were funny at all (*laugh*). For example I liked The Hit List but the whole time I was wondering where the comedy was. I did think Perils of Praline was rather hysterically, madcap funny.

      I do agree that the slapstick humor tends to rub me the wrong way. If the story is trying SO hard to be funny usually it fails to achieve that for me. I prefer clever wit and that sly wink as you do. Humor being so subjective and I can only imagine how difficult to write. Many kudos to authors who pull it off!

      Oh god, not another Sir Terry fan.. Kris will be in heaven.

      • I wonder if the humour in The Hit List was particularly British… There did seem to be a fair few jokes that wouldn’t neccessarily mean anything to people who haven’t grown up on a diet of the BBC. There you go – humour is culturally specific too. I may also have been reading with a surfeit of good will after sharing a long car journey with Anne and being exposed to her wonderful sense of humour in the flesh 🙂

        I feel sure that there are plenty of jokes I miss in US m/m fiction, because I don’t know why a particular reference is funny. That’s why I’m all the more impressed when I find stories by American authors hysterically funny.

        • It easily could be that. While I love some British humor I’ll be honest I don’t always “get” it. Just like I can love certain shows like the British Office or Being Human but Dr. Who never really worked for me. So definite cultural influences too… see how hard it is?!

  3. Tam says:

    Make me laugh and I’ll be your devoted reader.

    YES! This will make me take you’re book from an A to an A+. If you can make me laugh out loud in public I’ll follow you to the ends of the ends of the earth.

    Hmmm. Who? Well, not strictly m/m but the Tanya Huff series Smoke and … had me laughing out loud on a plane, several times. I really connect with Kiernan Kelly’s sense of humour. I tend to favour a more dry sarcastic wit than slapstick. Maybe it’s my British background. Josephine listed some good ones as well.

    I don’t care for characters are too ditzy and who are supposed to be comedic, a smart ass line from someone who is otherwise kind of serious will affect me more than a character who is “trying” to be funny all the time.

    • Wait Tam.. you’re British? I thought you were our lone Canadian. Have the English taken over! I also have laughed out loud in public and that makes me sit up and take notice. Especially if it happens to be at work…

      I haven’t seen the Tanya Huff series but I’ll definitely check those out. I can read outside the m/m genre (if forced! jk). Sometimes slapstick, outrageous humor can be fun but for the most part I do appreciate a more nuanced approach. I like characters that are witty and often unintentionally funny (ala Dresden Files).

  4. It’s no secret that I love humour in my books and don’t do well with angst filled stories. Some of the time when I review a book, if the humour is really well done I might increase the rating by .25 points because writing a humourous story is very difficult to do, IMO.

    There are too many authors/books to list but
    one of my favourite books because of the humour is Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger. Also, like Jo, I love James Lear’s Mitch Mitchell series. It’s no secret that another funny author who I love is Ethan Day and his humour always lifts me up.

    I love all kinds of humour from slapstick to dry British humour, depending on my mood, and JCP’s PsyCop series would not have been as popular without her great sense of humour.

    • I equally like humor and angst. Together I would fall in love with the book but that may be too much to cram into one plot. But I do agree that writing comedy, great comedy that really makes readers laugh seems to be a tough art. I think authors should really be applauded since I can’t imagine the fear in taking the chance.

      James Lear I found to be eh, funny but not quite my taste though I did also like the humor in JCP’s books – both her PsyCop and Channeling Morpheus series. I’ve only read one of Ethan Day’s books and he seemed more madcap which I don’t mind Rob Rosen is like that but didn’t quite do it for me. It’s rough to compare sense of humor AND throw in writing style as well. So many variables!

      • nichem says:

        I equally like humor and angst too, Kassa. It’d be great to find a book with a good mix of both.

        Of humorous m/m authors, I like most of the ones everyone’s mentioned, especially LB Gregg, Ethan Day, and Steve Kluger. I alsoliked Josh Lanyon’s Somebody Killed His Editor and All She Wrote.

        My favorite go to author when I want a really good laugh, though, is David Sedaris.

  5. Tam says:

    Um, for some reason it won’t let me reply to your comment to me. Weird. I’m not British per se, but my family background is British, my great-Grandmother emigrated from Scotland so there is a lot of that restrained sarcastic humour in my family.

    Are you familiar with the Blood books by Tanya Huff with the vampire Henry? In those books he is bi but the main romance/triangle is with a woman. However in the Smoke series he moves to Vancouver with Tony, a young street kid and they live together. Eventually they split but remain friends and then Tony finds out he’s a wizard and lots of crazy shit starts happening as he figures out his powers and he works on the set of a TV series about a vampire detective and has a crush on one of the actors. So there’s not a lot of on-page m/m but the relationships are definitely there and it’s just such a sarcastic wit sometimes, it never takes itself too seriously but it’s not a farce either. Lots of stereotypical supporting characters that you can’t help but love. Okay, pimping done but I swear it is my all-time favourite series. I was really hoping there’d be a fourth book after the way it ends with Tony and Lee FINALLY 3 books later kissing but …. 😦

    • Hey Tam sorry apparently I had some settings wrong that Jaye fixed for me. (Thank god for Twitter!)

      I do know the Blood series which is why I never picked up the author. I think I put her in the m/f category and ignored. I’m ok with no m/m sex but I do prefer male lead characters right now, even in my “mainstream” reading. So that sounds right up my alley. I’m re-reading the Dresden files and would love to read about an UF wizard so thank you!

  6. Hi, Kassa! I agree with you about how priceless it is to find humor in fiction. I’m kind of like Tam in that I prefer it subtle and realistic rather than madcap and over-the-top (though I’m open to that). I’m drawing a blank, though, right now on any recs for you, though I can say I enjoyed the humor in According to Hoyle by Abigail Roux, which I just read.

  7. Oh, great topic, Kassa! Steve Kluger, LB Gregg, Eden Winters’ Match Before Christmas, some of Clare London’s books…

    Non-m/m: Bellwether and To Say Nothing of the Dog, or How We Found the Bishop’s Birdstump at Last by Connie Willis and Bill Bryson’s travel writing.

    • Oh I have Eden Winters’ one in my pile to be read and hmmm I’ll check out those non m/m suggestions. I love this thread, so many books to read! Thank you!

    • Marie Sexton says:

      OMG. YES to Connie Willis. Then if you get tired of laughing, you can read Doomsday and cry your eyes out. I have Blackout on my shelf but have been afraid to tackle it. I just know it’s going to make me cry!

  8. Whilst mad-cap, silly humour such as slapstick or situation comedy does appeal to me and even makes me laugh out loud (authors such as LB Gregg or books like The Perils of Praline are two examples of this which spring to mind), I’m a bit of a twisted sort, so black humour appeals to me more than that. I’m a complete sucker for a hero who can find a wry comment or a quick witted remark even when things are looking really crappy for him. Jordan Castillo Price is a master at this, as is Josh Lanyon. Vic from the Psycop books and Adrien English are two of my favourite heroes for that very reason. Black humour is often very cerebral and a bit sick at times, so it’s not to everyone’s taste. Rick R Reed is good for that type of humour too. I’m also a great fan of satire and the sort of jokes that run so close to the bone they are almost not funny, if you see what I mean.

    Mind you that doesn’t mean I can’t still appreciate the beauty that is a good fart joke :).

    • *laughs* well that’s one skill I don’t really have. Those fart jokes make me cringe still..

      I do agree that some madcap humor like Perils of Praline is simply hilarious but a lot of that book is filled with wry humor in between the ridiculous over the top antics. I do agree that black humor is simply wonderful. An area I’d neglected to mention and JCP has some of the best black humor. I do adore that sense of satire and laugh in the face of certain death attitude.

      All of this talk makes me want to do a week of funny stories theme.

      • Oh yes, that would be good. I haven’t read a decent funny story for a few weeks now. Everything seems to be some damned earnest at the moment!

        Mind you, I know we have different tastes because I seem to remember recommending a book I thought was really funny and you didn’t like it at all :(. Just goes to show how subjective humour is.

  9. Cool post Kassa – I am more the sarcastic humour type (As Josephine mentioned, this might be a (regional) Brit thing – I get that sort of humour), slap stick and ha ha funny really does nothing for me..

    But I do agree that when the humour does work for me I am even willing to overlook loads of niggles…

    I enjoyed reading through the comments and seeing how other readers look at books I totally did not like at all…

    🙂

    • Brits taking over the world (hehe) so there are definitely a lot of readers that appreciate the more sarcastic, sly humor.

      Which books didn’t you like? Did their humor just not work for you?

    • Thank you! Sometimes I feel like all we talk about (myself included) are all the bad things. It can create a thoughtful but negative atmosphere. So here is my small contribution to something good.

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