Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Five Funniest Works Ever Written

Every now and then you need to read a really hysterical novel to take your mind off the fact that the world in which we live is basically doomed. None of us individually can do very much about the world financial crisis, climate change, mass species extinction, the genocide in Tibet, or the dubious popularity of Lady Gaga. But we can do what great men and women throughout the ages have done when confronted from the insanity of the human condition: retreat into the world of a seriously funny book.

Here are my personal recommendations for the funniest works of fiction ever written:

5. Tie: The Decameron & The Canterbury Tales - Who says a great work can't be a laugh riot? I was forced to read both these works as a student and couldn't believe just how nasty, crude, vulgar, and tasteless they are (in a nice kind of way).

4. Pride and Prejudice - I know that some people find Jane Austen prissy, but I'm definitely not one of them. I love this book, reread it almost every year, and always laugh out loud when I do (especially when I come to any scene involving Mr. Bennett or Mr. Collins).

3. Catch 22 - See previous post.

2. Tom Jones - Joseph Andrews is also a hoot-and-a-half, but this is definitely Henry Fielding's comic masterwork. Sure its smutty and cynical, but that's what makes it so much fun!

1. A Confederacy of Dunces - Ignatius J. Reilly...That should say it all. If you are a guy between the ages of 35 and 50, you know damn well that this is the funniest work ever written. The rest of you just don't know what you're missing!

“I refuse to 'look up.' Optimism nauseates me. It is perverse. Since man's fall, his proper position in the universe has been one of misery.” (John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces)


  1. You forgot The Bible. That's a pretty hysterical work too!

  2. I don't know if I'd really put The Bible on my list. There are those who would classify it as non-fiction. Also, with the exception of certain sections of the Book of Revelations, most of it is not all that funny. If it was, more people would probably want to read it.

  3. Wrong again. The Bible is the greatest work of fiction ever written. Burning bushes, virgin births, women being turned into pillars of stone, the four horsemen of the apocalypse: that's some seriously wacked-out stuff!!! You gotta have real imagination to come up with shit like that. It's funny to, but in a twisted kind of way.

  4. What, no Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or anything by Vonnegut?

  5. Funniest works -- at least to my decidedly occidental frame of reference:

    #5 Don Quixote -- also one of the saddest, by the way... a testimony to the fact that the comic and the tragic spring of the same root...

    #4 Have to agree with you on Chaucer, at least as concerns The Miller's Tale.

    #3 Enderby is good for a sizable laugh, as well... any novel that begins with a fart, after all. I mean, this could be a list, as well. How about it, Mike? Top ten (F)art-works. Actually, The Miller's Tale would be on this list, as well! Ah, the transcendent Chaucer!

    #2 Watt, by Samuel Beckett. His last novel written in English, first.

    I agree with you about Confederacy of Dunces being #1.

    Honorable mentions: Kafka's Metamorphosis
    (see comment in #5) and Joyce's Ulysses -- toe-jam examination; onanism on the beach to the accompaniment of fireworks and chiming clocks -- oh, the humor of classic lit abounds!
    And, also, can't forget the first couple of books in Hitchhiker's Guide...

  6. Kafka and Joyce? You really have quite a bizarre sense of humor, don't you!

  7. "One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin."

    I mean... it's so funny! Because it's so true!