Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Humor me

There are a lot of funny books out there--or books that purport to be funny. That try it. And fail. (Fail, at least, to tickle my funny bone.)

Things that don't work for me in humorous books:
  1. Keystone Kops/Three Stooges routines. It just doesn't work in books. They aren't visual. Don't try it.
  2. Too many lists or "notes to self" that are supposed to be humorous. I don't mind two or three in a book, but when there gets to be too many, it grates on my nerves because it's as if the author is trying too hard. (Diana Peterfreund's Secret Society Girl, however, succeeds very nicely with its lists.)
  3. Trying too hard. Sometimes this falls under #1 or #2; sometimes it's just obvious that the author is trying for a laugh by giving outrageous descriptions or setting up outrageous situations.
There are many books that make me laugh once or twice throughout--JD Robb's always do, either in her interactions between Eve and Roarke, or Eve and her female friends. In this case, it's all character-driven. Eve is not a frou-frou female, and her friends are...which leads to many humorous exchanges.

But I don't consider the Robb books "humorous."

Jennie Crusie, Susan Elizbeth Phillips, and Elizabeth Peters write what I consider humorous books. They make me laugh throughout; not just in one or two places. Again, in these cases, it's humor driven by the character and his or her unique perspective--not by putting the character in absurd situations.

So I've finally figured out that what makes me laugh out loud is character reactions based on his or her unique perspective--whether it be their thoughts, dialogue, or, sometimes, actions. But mostly the first two.

When I find a book that makes me laugh out loud consistently, I am delighted. Humor is much, much harder than drama. I know I can't pull it off.

So...a year or so ago, I was on a weekend getaway with two of my girlfriends. I'd brought a friend's unpublished manuscript to read and was really enjoying it, laughing out loud as I lay by the much so that my girlfriends kept asking, "What are you reading? Where can I get this book?" (They know what a terribly picky reader I am.)

Well, now they can...or at least, in about ten days. My dear friend and hilarious writer Jana DeLeon's Rumble on the Bayou hits the stores.

I'm going to be giving away a few copies of this book here on the blog, because I love it so today, if you post a comment (anything!) on this post, I'll put you in a drawing for a free copy of the book, signed by Jana and with an extra little goody.

Stay tuned for more about Rumble. I think we might even get an exclusive excerpt from Jana...!

So....which authors tickle your funny bone? Make you laugh out loud throughout the book?


Blogger Devonna soliloquized...

Colleen ~ This book is actually on my wishlist. It sounds so good. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Any book that makes me laugh is definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous soliloquized...

Awesome! I love giveaways! :P

About humor, I adore a book that makes me laugh out loud! I agree, SEP does a good job of it. Another author that never fails to make me laugh is Peter David, though he's sci fi- not romance. I take that back, he manages to through in romance quite nicely for me which is why I always come back. :)

My favorites of his is in the Star Trek line (I can hear the groans from here!) ... he created the New Fronteir series, a new series entirely in books! Anyway, I ALWAYS laugh when reading his books!

And regarding your earlier comments, you're right, nothing is more pathetic then author who is trying too hard, especially with humor! ::shudder::

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Gypsy soliloquized...

I really enjoy SEP, especially Ain't She Sweet. I'll definitely be putting this one on my wish list.

Another funny lady? Carolyn Haines.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Marg soliloquized...

Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde and the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich are names that spring to mind when I think of funny books!

The thing with humour is that it is so hit and miss - even sometimes from the same author. For example, Katie Macallister had me rolling around on the floor in one of her books, and then in the sequel I wanted to throw the book at the wall because it was so ... well, let's just say not funny!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Diana Peterfreund soliloquized...

The other thing about humor is that it's so subjective. People have recommended things to me telling me how funny they were and I didn't laugh at all and thought it was kind of dumb. Other things i've found uproarious haven't worked for my friends. Shockingly, some people do not find *my* work funny.

And OUCH on the lists! My favorite! I've been a sucker ever since I read Anastasia by Lois Lowry at a tender age!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Colleen Gleason soliloquized...

I loved your lists, Diana! And Wendy, in Dating had great lists too. It's just sometimes too much.

Marg, I have tried three times to read Jasper Fforde (my sister loves him), but I just can't get into those books! I bought The Eyre Affair when it first came out, even. Sigh. Definitely subjective.

Gypsy, I don't know Carolyn Haines...but I will find out about her.

Zeek, I don't know nothin' about Star Trek. Isn't that pathetic? I told you--I live under a rock.

Devonna, I'm glad you're wishing for the won't be disappointed. And maybe you'll even win a copy!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous iliana soliloquized...

Janet Evanovich is definitely a funny lady. I really enjoyed her Stephanie Plum series (especially the first ones). Another writer that makes me laugh is David Sedaris. He is so funny.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Annie soliloquized...

The funniest book I've read this year is Hubble Bubble by Christina Jones. I had a friend from the UK come stay with me for a couple weeks last year and she left it behind for me. Laughed out loud while I read it, it was my family meets Bewitched.

But I rarely find funny books. I find lots of fun books, but seldom funny. Unless it's Dave Barry. I heart Dave Barry.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous sassymonkey soliloquized...

Christopher Moore. I don't allow myself to read his books in public because I tend to spontaneous break out into laughter and it freaks people out. I swear I'd marry that man but I'd have to fight off at least two of my friends for the right. Besides, I think he's already taken.

In a totally different way - Meg Cabot just plain amuses me. I don't know if she quite makes me laugh out loud but she definitely amuses me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Jaci Burton soliloquized...

Diana's SSG definitely made me laugh. So do Julie Kenner and Gena Showalter.

I tend to go for dry, sarcastic wit. Probably because it fits my personality. *g*

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Trish Milburn soliloquized...

There are books where there will be a humorous scene here and there or a perhaps a humorous secondary character, but few books make me snort and laugh out loud. The ones I can count on making me do these at least once per book are the Stephanie Plum books. And it is all about the characters. I remember very little about the "plots" of the books, but Lula and Stephanie horrid luck with cars makes me laugh every time.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Katkat soliloquized...

I'm a big fan a Nora Roberts/JD Robb. I'll have to get Jana DeLeon's book when it comes out.
I love to read and am always looking for new stuff.Thanks!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger lainey bancroft soliloquized...

Jeez, now I'm even more eager to get my hands on Jana's book! A good chuckle is so rare. Jennifer Crusie, definitely. But as you mentioned, many try to hard. I personally don't get a laugh out of a character doing things I think make them TSTL.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous soliloquized...

"Zeek, I don't know nothin' about Star Trek. Isn't that pathetic? I told you--I live under a rock."

No worries Colleen, I'm the nerd here. Your just normal!

(But he really is a funny author!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 1:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Holli Bertram soliloquized...

A chance to win Jana's book! Can't pass on that. SEP is the first author who ever made me laugh out loud in public while I was reading. I'm looking forward to Rumble on the Bayou.
Slightly off the topic of books (but, hey,I'm thinking of laughing) - I recently rented the first three seasons of a British comedy called Couplings. OMG - very, very funny.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 2:43:00 PM  
Blogger Heather Harper soliloquized...

Serena Robar's BRACED 2 BITE.

This is the most recent book that made me laugh.

One of my favorite funny authors is Michelle Rowen. And I love Mary Janice Davidson.

Funny is very hard. But for me it is only hard when I force it, and think WRITE FUNNY.

Stephen King once said that many of his ideas begin in his head as NOW THAT WOULD BE FUNNY. That revelation in itself makes me laugh.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 3:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous soliloquized...

Gena Showalter & Julia Quinn are two that come to mind :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Wendy soliloquized...

I'm so jealous you got to read Rumble! I'm eager to get a copy. I just know Jana's great personality and skill will shine through!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM  
Blogger Anne Mallory soliloquized...

I love books that make me laugh. Rumble on the Bayou looks great!!!

One of my favorite authors for little bits of delightful humor is JK Rowling. She is so good at interspersing small things that make a big impact.

Like not putting your wand in your back pocket for fear of blowing off a butt cheek. And then Tonks saying something to the effect of, "Ready to go? Butt cheeks still in place?" :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 5:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Marina soliloquized...

I know that this is something that I always find interesting to discuss: how to keep it humorous without it being overtly funny. For myself, my blog is outside the norm, and I continuous try to maintain the perspective in order to provide a humorous tone, but it is extremely difficult at times to find the right angle. I am constantly reading things out loud, considering other people's opinions, and editting my work.

It still makes me chuckle when I get comments like, "Your blog is so much like British humor!" To me that is the biggest compliment! Dry humor, in my opinion, is the hardest kind to pull off.

I enjoyed your article today because it provided me with some insights for my own writing with my blog. Thanks for the tips, and I hope I win your contest!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 5:45:00 PM  
Blogger MaryF soliloquized...

I find very few things funny in a book. I love cozy mysteries more for this, especially Anne George's series. Though I did laugh a lot during Ain't She Sweet.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 5:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jana DeLeon soliloquized...

Hi everyone and thanks for posting/entering the contest! And mega hugs and kisses to my best buddy, Colleen, for hosting the event!!!

For those of you who like British humor, I have something to share that I don't think anyone else knows about me - I have the entire collection of Are You Being Served on dvd. And it's awesome!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 7:40:00 PM  
Blogger Carl V. soliloquized...

P.G. Wodehouse is definitely a laugh out loud author for me. I also find the Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchet collaboration Good Omens laugh out loud funny at points.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 8:49:00 PM  
Blogger Carl V. soliloquized...

And I LOVE Are you Being Served! Such a great show!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 8:49:00 PM  
Blogger Alyssa Goodnight soliloquized...

I consider a laugh-out-loud book to be a true find. I love Jenny Crusie, and this year I discovered Wendy French, whom I think is hilarious.

I've heard plenty about Rumble on the Bayou, and it definitely looks like it has a lot of 'funny potential'.

To totally deviate, I think Jane Austen is pretty hilarious too. (I'm reading Mansfield Park for the first time).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 11:45:00 PM  

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