I thought that title up on the spot.
Either way, today’s April Fools Day! I hope none of you have been sorely tricked or made fun of (but do remember that the day hasn’t ended yet) but remember to just laugh it off. It’s all for fun and games after all, even if you don’t find much fun in this. And in order to soothe potentially ruffled feathers after today, I’m dedicating this entry to comedy! For the remainder of this week, I too will use April Fools as a theme (or excuse, whichever you want to call it) to draw up related entries for my columns, so do look forward to that.
Now whenever I think of literary comedy, I have 2 favourite authors, P G Wodehouse and Douglas Adams, both dead though. P G Wodehouse represents the old-world British style of humour (never mind that it was intended for an American audience) and Douglas Adams represents the futuristic, modern, science fiction humour. He is also an Englishman. One would find that quite different, but Douglas Adams has openly expressed admiration for Wodehouse and has drawn inspiration from the old bird’s works. And really, both of them are so famous that I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes them both.
Wodehouse writes with a distinctly optimistic, endearing style. He has 2 series and a few ad hoc books as well, but I love the Jeeves series best, with old Bertie Wooster the idle but wealthy man who goes around trying to help his friends out, and his intelligent butler Jeeves who helps him out most of the time. The other series that I distinctly remember is the one about Blandings castle, which I find quite trying, because the lead character is Lord Emsworth, who is a fat stupid man obsessed all day with his prize-winning pig, the Empress of Blandings. The only remotely smart fellow in there, the pig, can’t even talk and we don’t really know what she’s thinking either.
As for Adams, he also had 2 notable series, quite a coincidence there. The first is the popular Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series, with 5 books, and the Dirk Gently series with 2. The former is much more insane and imaginative and brings in random references to Earth practices and totally irrelevant people and events. The latter is a bit more grounded, mainly because it takes place mainly on Earth, but Dirk is just as strange as Ford Prefect, really. Adams writes in a decidedly more negative mood than Wodehouse though, especially with his last book of the Hitchhiker’s series, Mostly Harmless. Interestingly, both men also died in the midst of writing, with Wodehouse in the middle of “Sunset at Blandings” when he died of a heart attack at the age of 93. Adams was in the middle of the “Salmon of Doubt”, and he died of (gulp) a heart attack at the age of 49.
People who have already read Wodehouse and Adams may be interested to find more humour writings that follow the same vein. Well, I have 2 that come to mind. First of all is Terry Pratchett, who is an English author of comical fantasy writings. If you love reading about magic and elves, and also about humour, he blends them both with his Discworld series. He has written 40 books in the series so far, not to mention accompaniment material about the world, and I think his level of extensiveness can rival J R R Tolkien. He writes about 1 or 2 books per year so you’ve got to catch up with him! Unfortunately, his writing prowess may screech to a halt soon as he has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The second group of people I am thinking of is the Monty Python crew. They primarily made a TV comedy sketch show, but their success carried over to films and books. Their books mainly chronicle their past works and also include autobiographies of their members, so you should check out their original source material on television. Here are a few videos to get you started.
I must say that when people ask me how to effectively write humour, I can only say to read a lot of humour and develop a style of your own. So get started with that, and have fun in the process!