Thursday, April 8, 2010

Funny Moments in Literature I Wish I Thought of First

I love a book that can make me laugh—and I mean laugh out loud, in the middle of the library or on the train or at Starbucks surrounded by strangers! And there are so many amazing books that do this, but there are some that I wish I had though of myself—that I literally ENVY the author for coming up with something so clever and witty, that I wish I was that awesome. A few of my favorites and the scenes that left me chuckling:

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Felding: this is also one of my favorite “chick lit” novels of all time, and how clever of her to update our beloved P&P! But the scene that I read time and time again is when Bridget decides she’s going to wear Granny Panties out one evening and eventually ends up in bed with the dashing Daniel Cleaver… I distinctly remember spitting out coffee once in a bookstore, well after I had first read the book. And who can forget the movie? Love It!

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent: I love this book because I remember my mom reading it to me when I was younger, and as an avid babysitter throughout my adolescence and college years, I loved reading this book to the kids I watched. If anyone has kids, I’m sure the refrain, “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo” rings a bell! Just trying to say it is hilarious, and the story that goes along with it is too much fun!

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: Not very many people find the coming of the Apocalypse hilarious, but I’m pretty sure Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett can make anything funny, but poignant at the same time. Basically, the Antichrist is switched at birth, and he’s raised in a family that’s totally normal (and subsequently the “normal” little boy is sent to live with the family to teach him of the coming end of the world)—but around the age of 11, he starts to wonder what would happen if he could just destroy the world and start over. The 4 horseman of the Apocalypse are 4 bikers, there’s an angel and a demon who decide to band together to try to stop everything, and one witch who foresaw it all from the beginning.

Emma by Jane Austen: Jane is often brought up for her wittiness and humor, and two characters in Emma that leave me in stitches every time I re-read it are Miss Bates, a spinster, and her very old mother, Mrs. Bates. Miss Bates is a bit socially awkward, but the scenes where she repeats everything at a louder volume so her mother understand what’s being said always cause me to laugh, perhaps a bit too loud. And the way they dote on Jane Fairfax is classic!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare: Yes, I’m one of those overachieving English Majors that has read all of Shakespeare, and while most of the historical plays run together, I think my most favorite of his comedies is A Midsummer Night’s Dream—everything from the situation of the young people in love to the fairies in the forest to the band of players charged to put on a play at the celebration of the weddings—I could go on and on about this play (though Twelfth Night is a very close second!). I’ve seen the Chicago Shakespeare Company’s production of this play, and it’s one of my most favorite stage memories. “Lord what fools these mortals be!” will perhaps always be one of the most memorable quotes from Shakespeare, too; and how that phrase holds true too often!

What are some of your favorite comedic moments in literature that make you laugh out loud? There are so many more that I could list—I’d love to hear some of yours!


  1. Great examples, Danielle! Honestly, I couldn't think of any before I have to run to work this morning!!! Super fun post!

  2. Two always come to mind first.

    Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. The scene in which the hero convinces himself that the heroine is too nice a girl to let someone else bungle the job. If there's a decent bone in his body, he has to be the one to take the her virginity.

    Frederica by Georgette Heyer. No matter how many times I've read it, I still laugh aloud when I come to the scene where Frederica needs to get her dog (a mutt) out of a jam and tells people he's a valuable Barcelona collie belonging to the Marquis of Alverstoke and now must persuade the marquis to back up her story.

    Heyer has concocted the perfect chemistry between her leads. Every line is funnier than the last, and because they also are aware of the humor of the situation, it's even funnier.

  3. I love the poke-fun-at type of humor, and I don't mean at people. But at situations or words, or cliches. Mel Brooks just makes me crack up every single time. The Inquisition cabaret act in History of The World Part I gets me every time. He takes something so utterly macabre and awful and makes it hysterical. Young Frankenstein is another favorite. "Abby Someone." Love love love it!

    As for books - I'm going back to my favorite romance novel of all time, Jill Barnett's Bewitching. I love all the characters in there, and the nod to Neil's superstition of the number 13 by not including that chapter - AND saying that she's not including it (at the request of Neil), just had me laughing out loud.

  4. I haven't read some of these. I'll check them out.

    Maybe I'm weird, but I think some of the JD Robb books are funny. Oh, and I second Mary Margret's rec of Heaven, Texas. SEP is the best (but you already know I stalk her).

  5. This is I have more books I have to check out! Thanks for the fun, Danielle!

  6. Hi Danielle,
    One of my favorite's is Amanda Quick's book "Michief". I've read them all and I think that is the title. It's where the hero comes into a house he believes to be unoccupied and for reasons too long to tell here he decides to sleep in a coffin. When the heroine and her maid come into the room talking it wakes him and he sits up. Well, I hope you can imagine how funny that scene was.

  7. Carolyn Brown delivers some wonderful side-splitters. But, I think the one I tend to re-read for comedic elements is Lynsay Sands The Rogue Hunter. There's a scene where the vamp hero Mortimer is looking at his neighbor, Sam. Mortimer at first glance thinks Sam's attacking her sister. Alex is mowing the lawn, while Sam's waving a dish towel & using a fly swatter like a mad woman. (He's thinking she's spastic.) It's really funny how Sands explains the scene.

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Terry! I know you're busy :)

  9. MM--

    SEP is so GOOD at humor. I love how she incorporates it into most of her books, and she does it so effortlessly.

    I probably could have devoted an entire post to Georgette Heyer--she's a master of sparkling wit. And it would have given a reason to post up all of our pretty Sourcebooks edition covers!

  10. Hey Judi,

    I thought about doing a post about funny movies, but then I realized that most of the movies I found so funny, were actually books first, that were equally as funny. But thank you for bring up Mel Brooks--he's a genius!

    I haven't read Bewitching, but I know you've brought it up before (maybe in a guest blog?) and it sounds like my kind of book based on the things you've mentioned!

  11. Hi Shana! I think something that goes a long way is when an author can bridge that genre gap, and bring humor into something like a "thriller," like JD Robb's In Death series! I've only read Naked in Death (and I call myself a "La Nora" fan), but I know what you mean!

  12. Glad you enjoyed the list Kathryne! You'll have to let me know if you read any of the books :)

  13. Amelia--that sounds amazingly funny! I will have to check it out :)

  14. Hi Witchy Woman--Carolyn Brown (a fellow Sourcebooks Casa author, but not a regular contributor to the blog!!) definitely has her own voice that is so unique and hilarious. Her take on living in the country and cowboys is so much fun!

    I'll check out The Rouge Hunter--sounds like a fun paranormal.

  15. Anything by Terry Pratchett is hysterical. He is absolutely brilliant. I think my favorite (so far, as I haven't read them all) is Mort, when Death decides to take a vacation and experience a human existence. No one is funnier than TP's Death!

    My favorite funny book is Big Trouble by Dave Barry. He is so funny anyway, but Big Trouble is literally one laugh after another.

    And of course Jane Austen is the master of witty humor. Great post, Danielle!

  16. Thanks Sharon! I agree with you about Terry Pratchett... and while I was daydreaming I mean working today, I thought of another book that is amazing--The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's been a few years since I've read it, but I LOVE it. The humor in that reminds me of Pratchett. :)

  17. I'll join y'all in the Susan Elizabeth Phillips lovefest - but my favorite is "Natural Born Charmer." The first scene, where the hero runs across the heroine dressed in a beaver suit to promote a lumber yard, is some of the best comedic writing I've ever run across.
    And I'll chime in on Carolyn Brown, too! Love her humor, and all the quirky, funny expressions and similes in her books!

  18. Hi Danielle~

    Sorry I'm chiming in late - I spent yesterday in an allergy haze.

    Like everyone else, I love SEP & Helen Fielding but some of my other faves for comedic writing is Jennifer Cruise, Rachel Gibson (See Jane Score is one of my all-time favorites) Susan Donovan, Janet Evanovich,& Katie MacAlister (I loved Derek's Bane)