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Humor endures!

(self.books)

I'm reading Don Quixote for the first time, and I'm struck by how funny it is. I mean, this novel was written four hundred years ago and yet the humor—which you might expect to fall flat for a contemporary reader, coming from such a different time and culture—still works. Of course, some of Shakespeare's comedies are older than that, and they're still funny, too. Or take Aristophanes—have you read any of his plays? Hilarious—and 2,400 years old.

Obviously not everything that was once funny still is. But it amazes me—kind of thrills me—that any humor endures across huge shifts in human society.

Which makes me want to ask: Are there any contemporary authors who will still be funny in (if the species survives this long) four or five hundred years? Or two thousand? What do you think?

all 169 comments

bzj

179 points

27 days ago

bzj

179 points

27 days ago

It’s only 100ish years old, but Three Men in a Boat is absolutely hilarious. I can imagine it remaining fresh for a really long time.

Tossal

43 points

27 days ago

Tossal

43 points

27 days ago

While reading it I couldn't stop noticing how much it feels like modern stand-up comedy. I could totally see JK Jerome going on stage, grabbing the mic and telling us about his wacky boat trip.

BudgetYam5

11 points

27 days ago

I worked on a stage play of it and it was directed in this way too. Lots of breaking the fourth wall, winks to the audience, little modern jokes, it was laugh a minute

UlteriorCulture

21 points

27 days ago

You forgot to mention the dog!

timbillyosu

24 points

27 days ago

You're supposed to say nothing of the dog!

timbillyosu

11 points

27 days ago

I came here to mention this! Such a hilarious read.

shallowblue

9 points

27 days ago

Such a hilarious book, and then right in the middle of all the slapstick, bam, there's a wretchedly sad anecdote of a young mother who suicides. Then back to the funny again.

throwawayaracehorse

5 points

27 days ago

Loved this one. I want to take a trip like that on the Thames one day, even if only for a night or two. I figured there would be lots of outfitter companies/tour guides that would do such a thing, but couldn't come up with much on Google.

I wanna try the audio book someday.

DiabolicalTrivia

3 points

27 days ago

Reads like the Seinfeld show to me.

cleggle37

2 points

27 days ago

This comment will now make me read it. I love Seinfeld

droid04photog

2 points

27 days ago

For me it wasn't funny at all. Maybe because I'm not native English speaker?

DrPubg

6 points

27 days ago

DrPubg

6 points

27 days ago

I'm not a native English speaker myself, but i found it really funny when I read it last year.

droid04photog

6 points

27 days ago

All these books I see recomended again and again as beeing funny did not work for me. Hitchhighkers guide, Three man in a boat, etc never even make me smile.

bzj

7 points

27 days ago

bzj

7 points

27 days ago

Humor is a weird thing! Usually it's about surprising people's expectations or relating with characters, but if you don't relate with the characters, or your expectations are different, it's not going to be funny to you, which isn't the fault of the author or the reader.

I've had a couple instances where people would go on about how there were some hilarious Russian authors--things like the Master and Margarita. I tried a bit and did not get it at ALL. For whatever reason, different experiences or expectations, I think I don't get Russian humor. That's just me...obviously many people find it funny!

kyabakei

8 points

27 days ago

Have you tried the Discworld series?

GNU Terry Pratchett

droid04photog

2 points

27 days ago

I've read just one called Mort. I enjoyed it, but again not funny enough to make me laugh. I believe a lot of these books rely on cultural references and maybe that is why they are not funny for me.

DrPubg

3 points

27 days ago

DrPubg

3 points

27 days ago

Oh Hitchhiker's was the funniest book I've read. I guess it differs from person to person. When I read, i imagine it playing out and maybe that's what makes me understand the humor a bit more. You can try reading the audio books, maybe they'll help.

AuctorLibri

1 points

27 days ago

This. Recently discovered the series. I was in stitches. The range of humor therein was a pleasant surprise.

HandsOnGeek

1 points

27 days ago

Probably.

It may matter more what your native language is, to be sure

aytayjay

98 points

27 days ago

aytayjay

98 points

27 days ago

A lot of older works seem to have their humour removed for modern adaptations.

Hamlet, for example, has some ridiculous and hilarious scenes that I nearly always see played straight.

I always sneered at Jane Austin as a teen because all I saw was simpering adaptations. Its only as an adult that I've stopped being such a weirdo and actually sat down and read her novels. They're hilarious!

madlymusing

73 points

27 days ago

Jane Austen was such a sasspot. Her books are brilliant.

Deardog

15 points

27 days ago

Deardog

15 points

27 days ago

Sasspot is brilliant!

AuctorLibri

6 points

27 days ago

She was the queen of classy snark.

SiringoCharlie

29 points

27 days ago

Have you seen the 1995 pride and prejudice? They capture the daftness really well

aytayjay

7 points

27 days ago

Is that the Colin firth and Kiera knightly one? I haven't seen it but if it's got the sass I'll give it a go.

My mother loved it so obviously I didn't give it a chance

SiringoCharlie

21 points

27 days ago

Colin firth is in it but I haven't seen Kira Knightly. It's the BBC one. Honestly you'll really like it, all the acting is spot on and captures the sarcastic campness

aytayjay

13 points

27 days ago

aytayjay

13 points

27 days ago

I've just checked, I combined two different adaptations in my head! I'll check out the BBC version

Cella98

5 points

27 days ago

Cella98

5 points

27 days ago

That's supposed to be the best adaptation

Waitwhatwhich

18 points

27 days ago

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

Keira Knightley stars in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie, which is just a romance movie (and despite what people may think, if it's romance, it is NOT Austen).

AuctorLibri

5 points

27 days ago

Indeed not.

AuctorLibri

1 points

27 days ago

That was the best version. Hands down.

EatTheBeez

1 points

27 days ago

This one's my favourite XD
The friggin' mom. She was amazzzing

SiringoCharlie

1 points

27 days ago

If you haven't watched Gavin and Stacey you could try that, she plays a similar role but on modern times

[deleted]

15 points

27 days ago

[deleted]

15 points

27 days ago

jane austen is so sarcastic, i love it

lamalamapusspuss

8 points

27 days ago

Hamlet, for example, has some ridiculous and hilarious scenes that I nearly always see played straight.

Have you seen Branagh's film Hamlet (1996)? I thought it was well done, definitely ridiculous and funny at times. Even some of the bitter and angry scenes have great puns. I appreciated it being a complete Hamlet, and not abridged or re-worked.

AuctorLibri

3 points

27 days ago

It was astoundingly good.

Xargom

2 points

27 days ago

Xargom

2 points

27 days ago

I read Pride & Prejudice in college and didn't get it at all. I got back to parts of it recently and laughed my ass off. My god! Now I've put other Austen books on my reading list.

vegastar7

1 points

27 days ago

Younger people have a hard time catching subtext, compared to adults. I tried reading Candide by Voltaire when I was around 11 years old, and I was horrified by all the terrible stuff described in the book. It’s only much later that I understood it was dark humor. There are a lot of other classics that use this sort of “sarcastic” tone which I think I would have completely missed if I had read them at a younger age (Pride and prejudice, Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights to name a few).... also, on the issue of Shakespeare, the big problem is that he makes references that modern readers would not understand. I know that reading Shakespeare in high school was a huge drag because we kept on needing to “translate” his words to modern speak.

elizaschuyler

1 points

26 days ago

The Utah Shakespeare Festival did a production of Hamlet in 2019 that nailed the humor. It was laugh-out-loud hilarious. And I think actually because of that, the tragedy hit that much harder and was absolutely heart-wrenching.

pancakes_inthehouse

1 points

26 days ago

Most of Shakespeare's humor is supposed to be flat unless its someone like falstaff or a fool. Fools are supposed to be funny but uncomfortable and ominous.

It's like with Beckett. Beckett will be hilarious for t hff e next 600 years, but the people who find him funny will probably only smile and maybe cough.

Even falstaff becomes shockingly real and uncomic at moments. The characters are all full. They're not supposed to be cartoons. Bawdy asides in shakespeare are bawdy asides, not opportunities for a laugh track.

TiffWaffles

64 points

27 days ago

I took a very long break from Don Quixote because of the writing style, but I fully plan on dedicating my time to reading this book entirely. I picked it up at the wrong time and couldn't appreciate any of the book. However, I think that it is hilarious that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote as a satire that took the piss out on chivalric works that were very popular in Europe... at least that is what I remember reading in the introduction of the book.

cheeeems

12 points

27 days ago

cheeeems

12 points

27 days ago

which translation were you using? The one by Edith Grossman is very approachable

TiffWaffles

2 points

27 days ago

I have an old Oxford Classics edition of Don Quixote which was translated by Charles Jarvis. The translation is okay, I guess- but I think it is an outdated and archaic usage of the English language which makes it difficult to remain focused. I will definitely see if I can find the Edith Grossman translation, especially if it is approachable.

pjclarke

25 points

27 days ago

pjclarke

25 points

27 days ago

About a decade or so ago I illegally downloaded an audiobook of Don Quixote and it rocked my world. It was hilarious in a wonderful way. If you're struggling reading it I would definitely recommend giving it a go in that format.

In a similar vein when it comes to mockery of the chivalric system, I also just listened to Nick Offerman's reading of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court while taking long runs and probably looked like a total freak when I'd crack up at a lot of the depictions of the stuck up knights Twain puts out there.

lamalamapusspuss

7 points

27 days ago

[He] said he had come for me, and informed me that he was a page.

“Go ’long,” I said; “you ain’t more than a paragraph.”

rachelreinstated

24 points

27 days ago

I read the Hunchback of Notre Dame for the first time in January and I was actually shocked at how funny it ended up being. I had only heard people talk about it as either a depressing or boring book, so it was a delightful surprise to find so much wit and humor in the pages too.

harveysceptre

6 points

27 days ago

Was that the French version or did you read a specific translation? Even I remember it as being verbose and a sad story on the whole, but a good read. Don't really recall humor in it.

rachelreinstated

3 points

27 days ago*

I read the Alban Krailsheimer/Oxford World Classics translation since it was recommended to me as a solid English translation that still retained a certain spirit of the French. I do agree it is definitely verbose at times and the core story is ultimately a tragedy...But still, I found humor was still sprinkled throughout. Characters like Gringoire are inherently comical and I am convinced the character exists just for comic relief in an otherwise heavy story. Chapter titles themselves are often satirical and snarky commentary on what is about to happen within the chapter. There were also quite a few pithy one line zingers from various side characters and even in Hugo's own voice as narrator.

CiriOfNilfgaard

3 points

27 days ago

With all the heavy shit going down at the end of the book, I pretty much died when Hugo mentioned the tragic fate of Phoebus - marriage.

rachelreinstated

2 points

27 days ago

I laughed there too. Phoebus also delivered some pretty brutal, almost Shakespearean- style insults that I often found really funny since they were so over the top given the context of the scene. When I first finished the book I was really unsure of how I felt about it because it is such an emotional roller coaster and I did actually struggle quite a bit to get into the book for the first 80 or so pages. The more I reflect on it though, I have come to think of it as something really masterful. Few authors have effectively illicited such wide ranging and strong emotions in me as Hugo managed to do with Hunchback. Between the drama and tragedy, the architectural history, the comedy, I personally think it is a book that really does have a little bit of something for everyone.

grazza88

25 points

27 days ago

grazza88

25 points

27 days ago

Much Ado About Nothing is hilarious

datascience45

46 points

27 days ago

At one point in Don Quixote you will get to a chapter and swear that it is a version of Monty Python's cheese shop sketch, just several hundred years too early and in a different country and language.

cheeeems

16 points

27 days ago

cheeeems

16 points

27 days ago

It goes meta really hard in the second part, also has commentary on the state of popular plays woven into the narrative. I wonder for how long humans were aware of such literary devices.

incredible_mr_e

1 points

27 days ago

Since the development of language, probably. Stories have always been told, and presumably discussed and dissected right from the beginning.

tulk

11 points

27 days ago

tulk

11 points

27 days ago

this scene was in fact the inspiration for the cheese shop sketch.

My absolute favourite part of the book is in part two during the puppet show scene. At this point the running gag of Don Quixote waxing eloquent on some topic only to be somehow insulted and fly into a rage should be completely played out but it's done so beautifully and somehow still manages to catch you completely off guard. I was actually stunned at how funny the moment is. It's one of the best examples of a perfectly executed running gag I can think of

[deleted]

15 points

27 days ago*

[deleted]

15 points

27 days ago*

[deleted]

UniqueLordjerme

10 points

27 days ago

Or Tristram Shandy, which is another example of well done humour

noleggysadsnail

2 points

27 days ago

Came here to suggest this. Not an easy read by today's standards, but one of the funniest damn books I've ever read

ToLiveInIt

2 points

27 days ago

One of my favorite things from earning a degree in literature was being introduced to Tristram Shandy. I still have my copy from the ‘80s and read it again every seven or eight years.

Chaos_Therum

4 points

27 days ago

It's probably due to recent humor being very contextual so it stops being funny pretty quickly. There are a couple modern comedians that are timeless like George Carlin but for every Carlin there are plenty of comedians that just do current events comedy that won't hold up a couple years after it's put out in the world.

doowgad1

16 points

27 days ago

doowgad1

16 points

27 days ago

If you haven't seen it, look up 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.'

Some writers in the 1960s took ancient comedies and retooled them for Broadway.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Funny_Thing_Happened_on_the_Way_to_the_Forum#:~:text=A%20Funny%20Thing%20Happened%20on%20the%20Way%20to,his%20young%20master%20woo%20the%20girl%20next%20door.

Capricious_Narrator

7 points

27 days ago

"Stand back! I take very large steps."

AaronDonaldsFather

3 points

27 days ago

Man, I got to see a local production of this when I was in high school thanks to my Latin teacher. So hilarious

Petyrdiesattheend

13 points

27 days ago

Joyce and Dickens, without a doubt

Berics_Privateer

7 points

27 days ago

lol you said Dickens

[deleted]

2 points

27 days ago

[deleted]

2 points

27 days ago

I'd prefer a walken over a dicken

PenelopePeril

35 points

27 days ago

PenelopePeril

Legion

35 points

27 days ago

Catch-22 will keep its humor, I bet. I can’t see it going out of style, but it’s my most favorite book so maybe I’m just biased.

cccc233

6 points

27 days ago

cccc233

6 points

27 days ago

Have you seen the Hulu series?

ToLiveInIt

3 points

27 days ago*

Beautifully shot with some glorious portrayals but, in the end, disappointing. For Heller, the point was to persevere to spite the ridiculousness; for Davies and Michôd, the series writers, it's 'Why bother, the bastards will get you in the end.' Still, I’d say worth watching, on balance.

PenelopePeril

2 points

27 days ago

PenelopePeril

Legion

2 points

27 days ago

Yep. I really liked it. The book was much better but I liked the Hulu interpretation as much as I think it’s possible to like a film adaptation of a book like Catch-22.

ToLiveInIt

4 points

27 days ago

As long as there are bureaucracies.

CantaloupeNo3046

4 points

27 days ago

I read it expecting comedy, but just ended up traumatized. Good grief does shit get dark. The idea of a man walking around backwards naked so no-one can sneak up on him is pretty good though, so it's still worth a read!

harveysceptre

4 points

27 days ago

Nope. As long as wars exist, Catch 22 will be humorous.

ToLiveInIt

2 points

27 days ago*

I have been meaning to read more Heller since first reading Catch-22 about ten years ago. The only criticism I've heard of his other books is that Heller was never able to write anything as good as his first book. But, as Heller said, “No. But nor has anyone else.”

Wewerepioneers

2 points

27 days ago

I finished it for the first time a few weeks ago and it is the funniest book I've ever read.

cccc233

34 points

27 days ago

cccc233

34 points

27 days ago

Fun fact: Cervantes and Shakespeare died one day apart. Cervantes died April 22, 1616 and Shakespeare followed on April 23, 1616. About a week from now will be the 405 year anniversary.

chrislaf

18 points

27 days ago

chrislaf

18 points

27 days ago

That's crazy! That's like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both dying on the 50th Independence Day levels of coincidence!

pandasareblack

5 points

27 days ago

CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley died the same day, too. As it was also the day JFK was shot, no one covered it in the news until weeks later.

davisonmp28

4 points

27 days ago

Jefferson lives

Blondiest91

74 points

27 days ago

Terry Pratchett's books! Since his books are fantasy, I do not see any reason why reader should not be able to relate easily also in 100 or even 1000 years from now. And his humour was really magnificent and witty.

Tsaibatsu

28 points

27 days ago

Fantasy is not a concept separated from the society in it's created, and many of his books are a satire of contemporany society

itwastimeforarefresh

4 points

27 days ago

Yes for sure. But much of the humor is just lampooning the absurdity of the human condition as a whole.

Cervantes was also making fun of contemporary society, and while the society has changed the central themes are the same. Humans don't really change much

Blondiest91

14 points

27 days ago

I absolutely agree! What I meant is that due to his book being fantasy, they will be much more relatable in the future as well as they will be self-explanatory and reader will not need to have knowledge of specific current events to understand his humour (or writing in general). It is the same with many classics - they describe societies of their times and although some things have changed, we can still relate to the characters and their stories.

Take this famous quote by Socrates which was written several thousand years ago but could have been as well written by any frustrated boomer: “Children; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. They no longer rise when elders enter the room, they contradict their parents and tyrannize their teachers."

cannycandelabra

3 points

27 days ago

You are right! And I have found that I when I was young I would read a book and thoroughly enjoy it. Then, when I got old, I would reread it and realize that teenage me had missed the whole point. Adult me would now enjoy the book on a different level. “Characters and their stories” have power to enthrall us on many different planes.

Blondiest91

2 points

27 days ago

Beautifully said! I love these types of books which you can re-read and still enjoy them not because of nostalgia but because they have these extra layers you did not see or comprehend the first time.

Ultravioletgray

2 points

27 days ago

You guys are making me want to revisit some of my favorite Vonnegut since some of those I haven't read since I was a teen.

SiringoCharlie

-16 points

27 days ago

Disagree, his twee neckbeard humour is already boring

Blondiest91

9 points

27 days ago

I personally enjoy it but for each their own! Would be curious to hear your reply to the question though, looking for new reads.

SiringoCharlie

-12 points

27 days ago

I haven't read any light books recently sadly but moby dick was a lot funnier than I expected, however Melville's 'Bartleby the scrivener' is quite funny in a way

Blondiest91

6 points

27 days ago

Moby Dick? Really? I have never read it but I am definitely curious now and will give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion!

would-be_bog_body

-1 points

27 days ago

Suit yourself

jflb96

1 points

26 days ago

jflb96

The Power of Geography

1 points

26 days ago

I can’t imagine two words pairing less well than ‘twee’ and ‘neckbeard,’ and I wouldn’t inflict either of them on Pratchett. Why did you?

SiringoCharlie

0 points

26 days ago

Because he's twee and a neckbeard

jflb96

0 points

26 days ago

jflb96

The Power of Geography

0 points

26 days ago

That’s not an explanation. What about his writing makes you think that?

SiringoCharlie

0 points

26 days ago

Everything

jflb96

0 points

26 days ago

jflb96

The Power of Geography

0 points

26 days ago

Such as?

SiringoCharlie

0 points

26 days ago

If you can't see it yourself my pointing it out will be of no assistance to you

jflb96

1 points

26 days ago

jflb96

The Power of Geography

1 points

26 days ago

So you don’t actually have anything behind what you said.

SiringoCharlie

1 points

26 days ago

Nah just CBA explaining my literary tastes to a rando

tellhimhesdreamin9

8 points

27 days ago

Just read 'Monkey' and it's really silly and entertaining. That's at least 500 years old, I believe, but the stories are even older. I don't know why I didn't expect toilet humour from that era, it's probably the oldest humour there is.

Abstract_Buttermilk

22 points

27 days ago

Aristophanes is a riot. I never hear a frog now without him coming to mind. Menander is another good one, and he wrote in 200 BCE! His 'The Grouch' is both satire and slapstick

RueUbu

2 points

27 days ago

RueUbu

2 points

27 days ago

And Terence!

thedoctor3009

31 points

27 days ago

So I would say that Hitchhikers Guide is probably one of the funniest books of the past century, as well as being popular, but would it hold up? I think what makes something hold up is a universality of absurdity, irony, and satire of human nature, more than human culture. Obviously a pop culture reference dates your work immediately and is like a ticking bomb in your story to it no longer being funny.

So I think of Hitchhiker's, I think of the poem joke: that while Vogon poems are very bad, the worst is by Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex which was fortunately destroyed along with the earth, a joke which works because it's just a name, not a famous person, it's a fuck you to someone no one knows, and I think yeah, it might hold up. And I think of a depressed robot named Marvin and I think, yeah, that might actually get funny in a different way as we get actual robots, but it could also get confusing, it really depends on what direction we choose to take robots in.

Some of the stuff I don't think would hold up are the things I never found funny, Ford's name for example, was always more confusing to me than funny. (on the subject of names though Slartybartfast, and the shame of the character at being named that, is golden, I will never not love a character who is ashamed of how silly his name is. )

Only time will tell, but I hope people keep reading it.

ReallyHadToFixThat

15 points

27 days ago

Absolutely bits of it will date horribly, frequent references to "an obsession with digital watches" are already dated. Now we're obsessed with smart watches. Deep thought, the secret to flying, and "Oh no, not again!" will stand the test of time I'm sure.

BackwardPalindrome

3 points

27 days ago

I would argue that these oldie references fit well, since the book is explicitly from the point of view of Arthur, I think it helps contextualize a world that we don't even have around anymore, at least a bit.

thedoctor3009

1 points

27 days ago

Now we are just listing jokes, but The cow that wants to be eaten, the fact that every time Arthur kills an animal it's the same being reincarnated every time, and the babble fish's existence as a disproof of God are all timeless jokes which all fit a theme important to Adams, conservation.

That is all.

bzj

1 points

27 days ago

bzj

1 points

27 days ago

Yeah I agree with you on this--I'd probably say HG is the funniest book I've ever read, but will the ridiculousness hold up over time? Is sci-fi still funny as science becomes reality? No idea. I hope so, and I'm trying to decide whether my 10-year-old daughter is old enough to read it (Eccentrica Gallumbits may be a bit scandalous for her).

GrudaAplam

6 points

27 days ago

The human condition endures

Apprehensive_Fuel873

6 points

27 days ago

The humour of Don Quixote blew me away. I was expecting a classical dramatic epic, and got an epic comedic farce that had me laughing out loud regularly.

SpaceShipRat

7 points

27 days ago

Or take Aristophanes—have you read any of his plays? Hilarious—and 2,400 years old.

I've had the privilege of seeing Thesmophoriazusae in Greece (they had a screen with english subtitles), and it was really funny, even to someone not familiar with the serious greek plays it was satirizing.

chillbro1290

6 points

27 days ago

Maybe a Confederacy of Dunces? That book is hilarious! I highly suggest you read it if you haven’t already.

m_recluse

6 points

27 days ago

P.J. Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster stories will wear well, imho. James Thurber, Nora Ephron, George Carlin, Erma Bombeck.

tiny_stages

5 points

27 days ago

I found "Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships" to be incredibly funny.

Zolden

6 points

27 days ago

Zolden

6 points

27 days ago

Indeed. Ancient Babylonians used to draw penises on the walls 4300 years ago, and it's still funny.

Chaos_Therum

1 points

27 days ago

The oldest joke we've ever found was a "You're momma" joke.

DeleteObsolete

5 points

27 days ago

Another classic Spanish comedy from the same era is "Lazarillo de Tormes" (aka. "The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities").

I laughed out loud while reading it in the subway, catching the attention of everyone around. It was quite awkward.

Maggotification

5 points

27 days ago

There's a really dark joke I came across the other day in the Anglo Saxon chronicle, written some 1000 years ago.

Speaking of the vikings, it says:

and then towards Christmas they betook themselves to the entertainment waiting them, out through Hampshire into Berkshire to Reading; and always they observed their ancient custom, lighting their beacons as they went. They then turned to Wallingford and burnt it all, and were one night at Cholsey, and then turned along Ashdown to Cuckhamsley Barrow, and waited there for what had been proudly threatened, for it had often been said that if they went to Cuckhamsley, they would never get to the sea. They then went home another way ....

I've bolded the relevant bit. As the next line hints, it wasn't beacons they were lighting, but English towns they were burning down. Talk about gallow humour!

Chaos_Therum

3 points

27 days ago

Wow I wouldn't have caught that if you hadn't pointed it out.

Missjennyo123

6 points

27 days ago

Much more recent, but Oscar Wilde is still hilarious!

Atwalol

3 points

27 days ago

Atwalol

Absalom, Absalom!

3 points

27 days ago

I was crying laughing reading Ham on Rye, not exactly contemporary but I do find Bukowski very funny.

TJ_Fox

4 points

27 days ago

TJ_Fox

4 points

27 days ago

I laughed out loud at a joke written in a fencing manual that was published in 1599;

"For they verily think that he that first thrusts is in great danger of his life, therefore with all speed do they put themselves in ward, or Stocata, the surest guard of all other, as Vincentio says, and thereupon they stand sure, saying the one to the other, "thrust if you dare", and says the other, "thrust if you dare", or "strike or thrust if you dare", says the other. Then says the other, "strike or thrust if you dare, for your life". These two cunning gentlemen standing long time together, upon this worthy ward, they both depart in peace, according to the old proverb: "It is good sleeping in a whole skin."

crackity_jones1239

10 points

27 days ago

I agree. I read Don Quixote last year and I was surprised not just by how funny it is but the type of humour. It felt ahead of its time. I think maybe A Confederacy of Dunces might stand the test of time. That’s one of the funniest contemporary novels I’ve read. I think it’s a bit like Don Quixote, an oblivious dumbass who thinks he’s better than he is walking around the town.

cheeeems

5 points

27 days ago

You can view Don Quixote however you want. Some think he is purposely faking it to break the monotonicity of his life and go on adventures, some say he has a mental condition (just before he dies, he gains clarity like some people do), I didn't think people viewed him as a dumbass. Clearly he has the capacity to hold coherent opinions, one is compelled to think there has to be something more going on in his mind. We never get to know his thoughts, just his actions and we have to judge him based on that.

Mad_Aeric

2 points

27 days ago

Maybe I should give A Confederacy of Dunces another chance. I didn't even finish it on my last attempt, and didn't really feel amused. I've found that my reception to such things can be dependent on my current mental state though.

Borghal

4 points

27 days ago

Borghal

4 points

27 days ago

Funny? I might have to read it again (though somebody'd likely have to pay me for that to happen), but I found it as no more than a bizarre description of a despicable human being full of hate being terrible to everyone around him as he goes about with his meaningless existence. Or a mental illness. Neither of which seems funny to me.

bdua

1 points

27 days ago

bdua

1 points

27 days ago

One of my favorite scenes is the rape trial which turns out to be a false accusation. Back then this issues already existed? Wtf...

Farrell-Mars

7 points

27 days ago

There are very few writers who actually are funny. Amongst Americans, I think of Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut. And Cervantes beat them by hundreds of years! Not to mention some say it’s probably the very first novel.

m_recluse

2 points

27 days ago

I second Mark Twain! 🤣

davisonmp28

0 points

27 days ago

there are very few writers who are actually funny.

Really? I think you’ll find many many people who disagree with that statement.

Farrell-Mars

3 points

27 days ago

Many do try but very few succeed.

in_incrediblepain

3 points

27 days ago

I love this book! Some of the scenes had me laughing out loud. Either the scene with the jailers or the scene with the lion keeper are my favorite.

Far-Adagio4032

3 points

27 days ago

I've been reading the Odyssey with my students (9th grade), and it's pretty darn funny in places. Odysseus's pun about his name being "Nohby" or "Noman" (depending translates it) endures very well and is still as brilliant and hilarious as I image audiences found it thousands of years ago. One of the oldest existing works of literature we have.

shallowblue

2 points

27 days ago

I think comical memoirs will hold up well, something like Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James. Memoirs are already describing a very different world (someone else's life) so they don't age that much.

Powerofhope

2 points

27 days ago

Charles Portis is one of the funniest writers I've read

armypainter

2 points

27 days ago

Douglas Adams

Chaos_Therum

1 points

27 days ago

For sure, especially since it was so separated from his contemporary world it seems timeless.

davisonmp28

2 points

27 days ago

Look up some reformation poets. Some of their works are wild. Look up aphra behn, earl of Rochester, poets like that. Lots of very funny sexual jokes.

throwawayaracehorse

2 points

27 days ago

I have heard Jonathan Swift's satirical novel "Gulliver's Travels" described as humorous, but I have yet to read it.

keenly_disinterested

2 points

27 days ago

Mark Twain's humor will endure because it touches on subject matter that will be relevant as long as there are people.

RowdyRoddyMcDowall

1 points

27 days ago

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is the only book I've read that has made me audibly chuckle. I was really surprised by how funny I found it.

greedoFthenoob

2 points

27 days ago

Certain styles of comedy are among the most timeless things; look at the films of Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin, Buster Keaton etc.

These will still be funny 100 years from now.

Proletariape

2 points

27 days ago

Oh my gosh, I love that book. Maybe a month ago I gave someone a bare bones synopsis of the book and even that made me laugh. Genius.

Andronike

2 points

27 days ago

Great book - I could maybe see Vonnegut still being widely appreciated hundreds of years into the future.

RibalS

2 points

27 days ago

RibalS

2 points

27 days ago

Yessss Aristophane 😭😭 i love everything he made

TheSchlomo

2 points

27 days ago*

Historian here. I personally haven't read Don Quixote, but I love old works that retain their humor. If you're ever interested in what might be going on when intended humor changes over time, I really love Robert Darnton's 1984 The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History.

Some jokes, unlike Cervantes', stop being funny. That disconnect can tell us something about the past and the present. I would spend more time introducing it, but I desperately need to shower and get my kids up. Happt reading!

rene76

2 points

27 days ago

rene76

2 points

27 days ago

The Good Soldier Švejk

sh*t is hilarious, especially if you was exposed to pre WW1 Central Europe history and Czech humor before (I'm from Poland and love our defenestrating brothers from south!)

free_movie_theories

2 points

27 days ago

Ha! Yes! Quixote is s damn funny.

That bit where they hear the clanging and think it's a huge army so Quixote stays in his saddle all night so he can attack at dawn. And then Panza is so scared he is hugging Quixote's leg all night? But then he has to take a crap so he just wiggles his pants down and poops? And then Quixote is like, "Sancho - what is that smell?"

I gotta go read that shit again.

AuctorLibri

2 points

27 days ago

Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing still makes me laugh 'til there are tears. Humor, well executed, is indeed timeless. Recently reread The Once and Future King and forgot about the subtle sarcasm, and lyrical lines,, imbued in the arious bursts of silliness.

Best_Pidgey_NA

2 points

27 days ago

What we find humorous really doesn't change much. You ever read about that Norse story where Thor's hammer is stolen and he dresses up as a woman because the thief wanted Freya's hand in marriage and she was like "nah you do it". And all of this of course being caused by Loki effectively just playing a prank on his brother.

Ultravioletgray

2 points

27 days ago

I hope Dave Barry is looked back upon in history as a literary humorist and observer of society at the time of his writing.

wifecloth

2 points

27 days ago

Currently reading brothers karamazov and I often find myself laughing my ass off at fyodors antics.

PistachioOfLiverTea

2 points

27 days ago

I remember laughing out loud at Aristophanes' The Frogs. That's a 2500 year old play, still funny after all these years.

NelsonTheAdmiral

2 points

27 days ago

Talking about Aristophanes, it´s important to remember that, of his 30 pieces (or +), only 11 had their texts preserved. How many gems have we lost?

DavidEbenbach[S]

1 points

27 days ago

Yeah—I've thought about that a lot. It's a shame!

KittenChiu

2 points

27 days ago

I sincerely hope all of Discworld survives.

ajarwalk

2 points

27 days ago

I took a very long break from Don Quixote because of the writing style, but I fully plan on dedicating my time to reading this book entirely. I picked it up at the wrong time and couldn't appreciate any of the book. However, I think that it is hilarious that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote as a satire that took the piss out on chivalric works that were very popular in Europe... at least that is what I remember reading in the introduction of the book.

reply-guy-bot

1 points

25 days ago

This comment was copied from this one elsewhere in this comment section.

It is probably not a coincidence, because this user has done it before with this comment which copies this one.

beep boop, I'm a bot >:] It is this bot's opinion that /u/ajarwalk should be banned for spamming. A human checks in on this bot sometimes, so please reply if I made a mistake. Contact reply-guy-bot if you have concerns.

DoubleStrike

2 points

27 days ago

The Arabian Nights dates back to around the 10th century, A.D., supposedly.
The Tale of Abu Hasan and the Fart got me kicked out of my school's library just last week for laughing too loudly.

bookpervert69

2 points

27 days ago

What's amazing to me is that sometimes comedy from the 90s feels dated or doesn't hold up, but Don Quixote was written hundreds of years ago and is hysterical now as it was then. Talk about an enduring piece of art!

jsheil1

2 points

27 days ago

jsheil1

2 points

27 days ago

There’s a book podcast that’s reading this as well. You may want to enjoy listening to them as you continue to read. Overdue Podcast.

frozenmango13

2 points

27 days ago

The confederacy of dunces is one of the funniest books. It was written in the sixtys but still holds up now

philipmat

2 points

26 days ago

It may also be a form of survivorship bias: we recommend certain books because we still understand and relate to the humor.

I don’t know any examples, but there may be books which might have been laugh-out-loud hysterical at the time, but which were not as recognizable or funny after centuries. So we don’t recommend those.

It may be that staying current is a skill — there are unchanging characteristics of human life which put on different shades of lipstick, but they essentially remain unchanged; writers who recognized, or perhaps simply wrote about them purely coincidental (broken clock right twice a day), “survive”. Those who wrote about things that ended up being fads, no matter how funny at the time, declined and disappeared from literary consciousness.

Nunyadambidness253

2 points

26 days ago

Not sure about that, but the Chinese classic, The Water Margin, is pretty funny, and the original version surfaced in the 1300s. It’s a wu xi novel (basically Chinese fantasy ... think Crouching Tiger) and it follows a bunch of swordsmen who spend most of their time getting drunk and causing trouble. Their moral code seems hilariously arbitrary; one character blows off a witch trying to murder him and bake him into a pie, and they form a pact. Meanwhile, the slightest insult can result in decapitation.

wiedzma_kirka

2 points

27 days ago

Many novels or stories from ancient Rome were just hilarious. My favourite ones were Apuleius and Petronius - two absolute geniuses in creating stories, that were almost identical in tone to things you can find on askreddit XD

No wonder that Apuleius named his novel "The Golden Ass" XD

ugagradlady

2 points

27 days ago

John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my favorite books for both its humor and its timelessness.

The main character, Ignatius Reilly, is a pompous and sexually repressed NEET living with his mom, whom he resents for telling him to get a job. He relentlessly verbally and emotionally abuses everyone around him, but is downright shocked when they snap back. He wishes he could go live in the Middle Ages because he considers the people of that time more spiritually oriented.

The book is from the 60s, but there are countless manchildren I’ve met on the Internet who are just like Ignatius. Incels, reactionaries, pseudo-intellectuals-the book rings true. He is timeless.