There's nothing I like more than a good laugh - ok, there are lots of things I like more but, for the purposes of this article, let's say that laughter is it. It seems that it's easy to make people laugh on the big screen (Airplane, Some Like It Hot, Blazing Saddles) or on TV (Fawlty Towers, Frasier, Fr. Ted) but infintely more difficult to do so on paper. Sure there are writers who raise a wry smile or provide an "ooh that's clever" moment but it's much more difficult to provide that laugh out loud response - you know, the one that makes heads swivel towards you and wonder who let the loon out of his straitjacket as you read on the plane.
Of course humour is, by definition, subjective and what makes me laugh may not remotely entertain you (especially if you're a fan of Keeping Up Appearances or Harry Hill) but there are a few writers that have consistently given me that laugh out loud moment. I'll post about them in more detail over the coming weeks but, if anyone is interested, here's a list of the winners - in no particular order.
Janet Evanovich - her Stephanie Plum series is consistently funny with a raft of unforgettable suppporting characters,
P.G. Wodehouse - how to make British upper-class twits both funny and accessible,
Toby Frost - a writer I've just discovered. Space Captain Smith hits all the big SF targets but doesn't forget about both plot and amusing the reader.
Bill Bryson - how to make an ostensibly ordinary story about growing up in small-town America ridiculously funny,
Douglas Adams - yes, I know that the later books became more plot driven and less humourous but I still love the "early, funny ones",
John Connolly - yes, that John Connolly, creator of Charlie Parker and writer of dark detective fiction. The books certainly aren't funny but some of the dialogue beween Angel and Louis is hilarious
Terry Pratchett - 'nuff said. When he's on form, he's unbeatable.
Simon Haynes - I've just started his Hal Spacejock series and already the auspices are very good indeed.
Roddy Doyle - Dublin humour at its best.
Jasper Fforde - his Thursday Next novels are works of genius.
More to follow....