Peter of Detectives Beyond Borders alerts us to a discussion in the Australasian Crime Fiction forum in which Karen C asks us which crime fiction authors we find funny and why. There are some interesting selections there, including mine — but unfortunately I realise now that I’ve probably broken Forum rule 101 — "read the title of the forum", as mine involve non-Australasian authors. Sorry, guys! (But I bet you travel, Debi ;-). ) Bill James is mentioned, and I’m hoping to get some of his for Christmas. (It would be a digression to say why here, so maybe I’ll post about that another time.)
My reaction to Karen’s question is that I don’t usually like books that set out to be funny, crime fiction or no. I love it when I read something that makes me laugh "in passing", as it were: the joy of discovery is part of the pleasure of it. But books that promote themselves as "crime caper with a dash of chick lit", or whatever, are not generally to my taste.
So what does make one laugh? Rest assured, I am not going to attempt to answer that philosophical question here; rather I ask it to segue into this lovely post by Scott Adams of the Dilbert Blog on "nearly funny things". Scott writes:
"The key to finding good humor fodder is that the story must be NEARLY funny without being completely funny on its own. For example, if I see a story about some spatially challenged burglar who got his head stuck in a chimney, and a stork built a nest in his ass, that’s already completely funny. There’s nothing for me to add.
What I’m looking for is a story that makes me giggle before I even know why – the potential is there but it needs some magic humor dust to make it all that it can be."
And I think that explains very well why I am not too keen on "funny books", but love it when I uncover some slightly quirky passage that makes me burst out laughing. (Scott describes how he writes humour in the rest of that post at the Dilbert blog — well worth a read.)