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A comedic tour-de-force for anyone who hears 'Duelling Banjos' upon entering the countryside, Stella Gibbon's debut novel is an iced Martini in the face of the bucolic English literary tradition. In some ways a sort of s cousin to 'Withnail and I', the book details a season spent by orphaned London socialite Flora Poste among her rustic relations, the Starkadders.

Every offensive stereotype of rural life is hilariously subverted, and if this short, relentlessly brilliant farce doesn't make you weep with glee, you are piteously devoid of a soul. Exquisitely, magnificently funny and arch, Flora may be the sexiest woman in 20th Century English fiction. The best kind of comedy is based on recognition, and those of us who had grown up in Scotland during the s fell off our barstools reading Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting.

The novel has a surreal kind of authenticity, which might sound like a contradiction until you remember what the times were like: times when a feeling of dispossession gave way to a blessed sense of hedonism. All the characters in the book feel totally committed to their own world view in a way that is hilarious and deeply true: Renton is desperate for escape but also mired in addiction; Begbie is a grotesque compact of all the worst aspects of the Scottish male, whose aggression becomes his character.

The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy

The humour is dark of course, but much of what makes you laugh comes from the realisation that these people are brilliantly unapologetic about their reality, which has been making people crack up since the earliest days of comedy. It's exactly what makes Falstaff so funny. Three wealthy layabouts take a boat trip up the Thames to the amusement of generations of readers.

The book was originally intended to be a serious travel guide but, thankfully, it succumbed to the wit of the narrator's anecdotes and remains a warming portrayal of a brilliantly welcoming writer's mind. What seems like an innocent travelogue about an all-expenses-paid 5-star Caribbean cruise becomes a trip into paranoid neuroses as the author starts to fear how much he is being 'pampered'. He suspects his cleaning lady has him under surveillance, and develops a phobia about his 'suction toilet'; he experiences '1, professional smiles' and smells 'what suntan lotion smells like spread over 21, pounds of hot flesh.

He also overhears 'upscale US citizens ask whether snorkeling necessitates getting wet. After successfully weaning himself from an anti-depression medicine, DFW committed suicide on September 12, This is about as good as it gets. The story is set as WW II nears its end and concerns Yossarian an America bombardier, who is seriously committed to staying alive in a world of insanity. For those with no concept of this book think an air squadron version of MASH set in Except funnier. The writing is relentlessly honest as the characters on the airbase live and die, love and fail in the kind of madness that can only exist in the military.

It is, as great satire should be, unsentimental, vulgar and brutally hysterical. One of the things about 'high' literature is that it is almost never actually David Foster Wallace funny. This trend began with Shakespeare, who is always rigorously unfunny — if there is a worse sound in the universe than a theatre audience forcing themselves to laugh at Malvolio, I haven't heard it — and, with a bit of a break for Austen and Dickens although, come on, who actually laughs at them without feeling like a teacher's pet?

You will often read quotes on the back of modern greats that say things such as " hilarious" or "rip-roaring" but these will either be lies, or written by people who don't know what the words mean.

It is the Derek And Clive of high literature, a proper book by a proper writer in which the main character fucks a piece of liver. Roth's key discovery — published in the same decade as British juries agonized over whether to allow the masses to read Lady Chatterley's Lover, DH Lawrence's pompous, semi-fascist high seriousness outpouring about sex — was that the best way to render the pain, disgust, uncertainty, anxiety, despair and terror surrounding sex was to make it funny.

Kingsley Amis's first novel is definitely his funniest and, though the competition is strong, probably his best. It stars Jim Dixon, a young university lecturer who is persecuted by one of the great comic bosses, the bumbling Neddy Welch, by Neddy's son Bertrand, one of the greatest arty twerps in literary history, and by Margaret, who thinks she is Jim's girlfriend and who's the most fist-gnawingly neurotic bint in the literary canon.


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Will Jim chuck Margaret without her topping herself? Can he hang on to his rubbish job? Why isn't he going out with Christine, Bertrand's beautiful, large-breasted girlfriend? The conventional nomination for greatest comedy since the second world war, because that's exactly what it is.

Of the three stock humorous characters - the comic rogue, the comic butt, and the solemn fool - it is the last that strikes me as really funny. What could be funnier than solemnity? And the greatest solemn fool in all literature is Charles Pooter, the bearded, frock-coated, middle-aged, late Victorian clerk who records his suburban existence in "Diary of a Nobody" actually written by the brothers George and Weedon Grossmith.


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Pooter is dim, gullible, and given to awful puns; but he is also decent and honest, devoted to his mousy wife Carrie and rapscallion son Lupin. The forerunner of today's "cringe comedy," Pooter strives to uphold propriety in the face of a rude world "I left the room with silent dignity, but caught my foot in the mat. The reason, I think, that Woody Allen is so funny is that — for the first half of his paragraphs — he really thinks he might just, this time, achieve universal metaphysical profundity. But when he realises he's not going to get there by Route One, because he'snot a tormented Mitteleuropean genius, because he's just a tormented Brooklyn pisher, he goes straight for the Daddy-kill — and blabs something about shaving, cholesterol, or hens.

Here's Allen trying to execute his biggest Daddy, Franz Kafka.

Not if she won't tell me the other letters in her name. News Style Culture Subscribe Newsletter.

20 best jokes from British comedians

Type keyword s to search. D Salinger Picked by David Nicholls It's strange how this novel has become a by-word for doomy, nihilistic introspection; I blame Mark Chapman. Picked by Esquire Editors This irresistible melange of love, family, sexuality and reads like the unbelievable creation of a bored housewife, while the impact is made in the gulf that exists between what people are thinking and what they are saying. The Timewaster Letters by Robin Cooper Picked by Dan Davies Spoon collector, thimble designer, professional fish fryer and world authority on wasps, Robin Cooper is a many of parts — and many incredibly silly but stupendously funny letters.

Norm Macdonald. Based on a True Story by Norm Macdonald Picked by Esquire Editors Stand-up veteran and former Saturday Night Live cast member Norm Macdonald inspires cultish devotion in the US, but never made much of a name for himself on this side of the pond. Adrian Mole. Picked by Seb Hunter If you can swallow the tragedy of its publication, then A Confederacy of Dunces is a comedic masterpiece whose pages sing with one of the greatest fictional creations in literature. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh Picked by Alexei Sayle It is a gift to the satirist to live in turbulent times but there still remains the task of encapsulating them.

Picked by Mark Watson Tristram Shandy is a lesson to stand-up comedians in keeping a joke going: it's basically an incredibly protracted shaggy-dog tale, or 'cock-and-bull story' to quote the title of the film version, which I was planning to hate on principle, except it turned out to be pretty good. Picked by Esquire Editors Extract: "Jim Jackers was hard at work on the pro bono ads and had been working on them steadily for a few hours, since his return from helping Chris Yop throw his chair into Lake Michigan. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh Picked by Esquire Editors Brutally honest blogger and web-comic creator Allie Brosh built up a huge following with her witty meditations on depression.

Picked by Michael Rowley, buyer at Waterstone's I first read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in my mid teens, following a re-run of the popular TV series and, after reading the original four books and discovering the radio play soon after, my appreciation of humour as a young man was forever changed. Screenburn by Charlie Brooker Picked by Mark Billingham Making a reader laugh is hard. Picked by Joseph O'Connor A book that has appeared in several formats — hardback, paperback, CD, acid flashback — but nobody, including its author, has ever been entirely certain as to whatFear and Loathing actually is.

I, Partridge by Steve Coogan. Picked by Esquire Editors The worry for fans of Norfolk's finest export was that this autobiography might be an idea too far. Picked by Esquire Editors "We look like Republicans, and think like conservatives, but we drive a lot faster and keep vibrators and baby oil and a video camera behind the stack of sweaters on the bedroom closet shelf. White Teeth by Zadie Smith Picked by Mohammed Hanif The central character of Money, John Self is your average John's average self; a boy so hungry, so horny, so thirsty that you want him to go have another drink, visit another brothel or just make a crude pass at his lesbian colleague or stare at the book that his ex-girlfriend wants him to read before she'll talk to him.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons Picked by Joseph O'Connor A comedic tour-de-force for anyone who hears 'Duelling Banjos' upon entering the countryside, Stella Gibbon's debut novel is an iced Martini in the face of the bucolic English literary tradition. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh Picked by Andrew O'Hagan The best kind of comedy is based on recognition, and those of us who had grown up in Scotland during the s fell off our barstools reading Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting.

Picked Esquire Editors Three wealthy layabouts take a boat trip up the Thames to the amusement of generations of readers. Catch by Joseph Heller Picked by Mark Thomas This is about as good as it gets. It is hard to imagine that this third book could be even funnier than the first two, but it is. Can't get enough laughter, try this one on for size. Laughter is addicting.

Triple your fun. You must share it with others. This book is the second in a collection of the most outrageously funny tidbits and stories.

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Guaranteed to make you double over in delight. Laughter is the best medicine. It makes you feel young again. Hilarious jokes to ease your burdens. First book in a series of the greatest jokes of the century. Outrageously funny quips, jokes, and stories to tickle your funny bone. Real side-splitters, guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

The Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy

Home Medical Humor Gracious Me. Greatest Jokes of the Century You can be the first on your block to collect the whole set of rib tickling books. The cover provide a kaleidoscope of colors and make for great additions to any book shelf. These are better than the Reader's Digest.

Each one contains trivia, jokes, tidbits, limericks, pictures, cartoons, and just plain fun on every page. Go to Amazon to see inside each book and buy your very own copy. When you do buy some books, please leave a review on the page. Greatest Jokes of the Century Book Here are more jokes, jibes, jibs, and jabs, funny stuff, silly stuff, and one shaggy dog.

All neatly tucked between these covers. Greatest Jokes of the Century Book 17 The foolishness continues with this 17th in the series containing the most outrageous, silly, tomfoolery, and hysteria in all of jokedom. Greatest Jokes of the Century Book 13 Have you ever seen so many wonderfully funny jokes in your life. Greatest Jokes of the Century Book 9 If you thought eight were great, well think again because nine is fine.


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