RTW: Good for a Laugh

Today’s Road Trip Wednesday question, as posed by the folks over at YA Highway, is:

Who is your favorite comedian or funny book and/or movie?

This is actually surprisingly hard to answer. Not that I don’t enjoy comedy. In fact, one of the things that drew me to my wife was her ability to make me laugh. Growing up, movies and TV shows with high comedic value were among our favorite viewing, whether it was Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Not the Nine O’Clock News, The Princess Bride, The Marx Brothers movies (movies that are nearly 80 years old, but Groucho’s one-liners and Harpo’s faces still crack me up today)–to name a few of the TV shows/movies we would enjoy.

Naming a favorite, though–now, that’s tough. Especially with books. Partly because I don’t think I’ve read a book that made me laugh start to finish. There have been books with comic moments that stand out. There are many such moments in GRIMBLE, and in the JENNINGS AND DERBYSHIRE series–books I enjoyed in my younger days (okay… I still enjoy them). I can also remember laughing hard at the “You-No Poo” bit in HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. And both the book and movie of THE PRINCESS BRIDE have very funny moments.

One category of non-fiction that I find particularly funny is bloopers: mis-speaking, typos, that kind of thing. The British satirical magazine Private Eye periodically produces a book called COLEMANBALLS (named for the British sports commentator David Coleman, who was particularly talented at foot-in-mouth commentary). These books contain quotes from radio DJs, sports celebrities and commentators, TV presenters, etc. where they simply say stupid things. I mean no disrespect to the persons involved, but these crack me up. A lot. Some examples:

  • “I must apologise to the deaf for the loss of subtitles…” (TV Newscaster Angela Rippon)
  • “You don’t get once-in-a-lifetime offers like this everyday…” (Advertisement)
  • “I have already not made that point…” (Presenter David Frost)
  • “Some news just in–it’s so hot the paper’s still wet…” (Former Radio 1 DJ Andy Peebles)
  • “The record of Buddy Holly I like best is the one he made before he died…” (Music journalist/editor David Hepworh)
  • “… a lot of new albums out that we’ll be hearing quite a lot of, because they sound like albums that will remain timeless for quite some time.” (Former Radio 1 DJ Kid Jensen)

As soon as this post goes live, I’ll think of many other books, shows, etc. But I think that’s about the best I can do for an answer right now. How would you answer this? Use the comments to suggest funny shows, movies, or books I overlooked–or participate in today’s Road Trip yourself (details on how to join in are on the YA Highway blog). I look forward to being reminded of all the excellent comedies I forgot.

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26 Responses to RTW: Good for a Laugh

  1. Oh, I love the humor in the Princess Bride! Another favorite is Clue… highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it. I actually can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh very much… maybe I should read more light-hearted stories. The last movie I saw in theaters was Silver Linings Playbook and that made me laugh a lot!

    • Comedy is very subjective, so it’s hard to recommend a book that I can say “read this–you’ll laugh!” But, if you liked the movie of The Princess Bride, you should read the book. Same humor, same story, many of the same lines–only more. :)

    • I’m going to second ‘Clue’ — if you like movies chock full of snappy one-liners, ‘Clue’ is pretty much tops.

      And I love both the book and movie ‘Princess Bride’. It’s so quotable! “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

  2. I love Fawlty Towers. The German episode is my favourite but the whole series will have me in a fit of giggles over and over again. Great comedy!

    • Part of the genius of Fawlty Towers was knowing when to stop. Two six part series four years apart, and that was it. Twelve episodes that said all that needed to be said. Left the audience wanting more, but more would have been too much.

      The Germans is *classic*!! I would have to agree, probably my favourite episode too. :)

  3. I’ve still never read THE PRINCESS BRIDE (despite owning a copy), but I love the movie to death. I’m one of those people whose brain is packed with quotes from the movie, though I’m not rude enough to sit and spew them during a viewing. That’s just annoying. :P

    This was a difficult topic to post on, because there are a lot of things I could have chosen, but none of them are funny from start to finish. I ended up choosing a book that had funny parts throughout, but it wasn’t totally comedy. I suppose this was a nice break from the usual topics, though. :)

    • Don’t be scared of the book THE PRINCESS BRIDE. It’s the same humour, but with more stuff (Fezzik’s backstory, for example). Dare I say, if you loved the movie, you’ll like the book. I won’t dare say you’ll like it as much, but I think you’ll like it. :)

      This topic, hard as it is, was a nice break. :)

  4. I am in the same boat. When asked what I find funny, I blank out, or can’t narrow it down. Along the same lines as your picks, I would like to add “A Fish Called Wanda”. Classic.

    • It’s been a looong time since I saw “A Fish Called Wanda”–first year at university, perhaps? Wow. So, I don’t remember much about it, I’m afraid. I think books are the hardest to classify as funny, unless the books are comedic in nature (e.g., COLEMANBALLS). Most novels mix up the humour and drama, so that’s a tough call.

  5. Love the British Private Eye choice OBVIOUSLY. Great quotes you picked out. :)

    • Thanks, Vikki! I only have the first 5 COLEMANBALLS books. It seems they’re still producing them, so I’ve asked my mum to look out for them and send me more. :)

  6. I loved that U-No-Poo bit so much in Harry Potter that I got a t-shirt. No joke. It’s got the whole advertisement on it.

    • On a t-shirt? Awesome! That part of the book had me in tears–and it’s not often a book does that. It’s especially hard when I’m reading it to the kids, and I start cracking up before I even get there because I know what’s coming… :)

  7. Those quotes remind me of things my mother says. My favorite of hers was, “Mama Cass posed for a nudie magazine, you know. (Pause) This was before she was dead.”

  8. Some great choices. Monty Python and ice cream: that was how my friends and I partied in high school. For some reason (and thank goodness) the theater kids in my year were really straight-edge, awesome nerds, rather than the booze-and-pot partiers a year or two above us. (And hey, which group has more fond memories–or memories at all–from high school parties? I’m sure it’s us.) I will always associate Monty Python and the Holy Grail with my favorite moments of high school.

    • Thanks, Jess. I must say, I always preferred the Monty Python TV series to the movies… but Holy Grail is a lot of fun. And yes, I’m sure your group has much fonder–and probably clearer–memories of high school parties! :)

  9. I love both the book and the movie of THE PRINCESS BRIDE. In fact, the ending of the book is much funnier than the movie, if you recall how it’s written. Monty Python is hilarious too. I’ve never seen Not the 9 O’clock News, but Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean always makes me laugh. His performance at the Olympics was a highlight. :)

    • Oh my goodness! Rowan Atkinson was so funny at the Olympics!! “Not the Nine O’Clock News” is where Rowan really got his start. It wasn’t long after that he did Black Adder, and the rest is history as they say. One other of the “Not the Nine O’Clock News” team might be familiar to you–Mel Smith (standing next to Rowan in the picture above) played the Albino in the Princess Bride movie. NtNO’CN was a sketch show–one of a number that launched careers in the 80s. Brits of my generation would probably remember it. :)

  10. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought it was hard! I feel badly when I recommend a book for being funny and then realize that there were only a few parts that had me in tears. Then I have to find some other reason to recommend it and hope they enjoy the humorous parts as gravy.

    • Unless you know the person really well, it’s hard to know exactly what people will find funny. There are things that crack me up that my wife doesn’t get. The Princess Bride seems to be the exception to that rule. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t find that movie funny! :) But books… definitely a different issue. The best you can do is say “This made me laugh–and it’s a really good story too. I hope you enjoy it.” :)

  11. Thanks for reminding me that The Princess Bride was a book BEFORE it was a movie (and for giving props where props were due.) Looking for the book now so I can read it. :)

    • You’re welcome, Gina! It is a good book. I read it and smiled at all the movie lines. :) The “extra” bits (or the edited-out-for-the-movie bits) are fun too. :)

  12. For books (which I completely neglected in my post!) I think I would say Harry Potter and any of John Green’s books, because I can’t think of any other books that regularly make me laugh out loud like those two do.

    And I can quote The Princess Bride movie pretty much word for word. I’ve been meaning to read the book for years now, so that’s probably something I’ll make sure to do this year.

    • If you like the Princess Bride movie that much, you’ll enjoy the book. Perhaps not as much (I liked the book–even laughed in places–but the movie will always be the version I go back to), but you’ll at least have fun with all the lines you recognize. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” :)

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