It’s a bit dense for some people, and I didn’t make all the way through cuz the book is obviously huge, but Don Quixote genuinely made me LOL. I went into it thinking it would be too archaic to enjoy but it was just so chockfull of irony I found it very funny. I would pick it up again except I lent my copy to someone and never got it back…
Nothing, and I mean nothing in the written word has made me laugh as hard and as long as the Dinner Party Scene in Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign. An absolute masterclass, and just when you think it’s over…
…Simon Illyan opens his mouth and it’s off to the races.
I have never laughed so hard at a book in my life.
The scene in A Confederacy of Dunces where Ignatius Reilly tries to help Miss Trixie up off the floor after she falls out of her desk chair is the only time I’ve ever laughed out loud while reading a novel.
I remember a looooong time ago before he was cancelled I grabbed a copy of “Without Feathers” by Woody Allen at an airport book store and was pretty much tear stained with laughter all the away across the Atlantic.
For anyone who has a Kindle … I would recommend MY book… A Fantasy/Comedy called “Boing: The Half-Ogre”.
"WE JOIN THE STORY IN MEDIAS RES… Death is having a mid-life crisis. His solution? Kill everyone and maybe learn to enjoy life again, of course. The Gods believe that he’s taking things a little too far and look for some heroes to save the world. Unfortunately the best they could come up with were Boing: the Half-Ogre, Fragdoobly the wizard, and Frog. Join three madcap companions on a witty adventure in a hilarious fantasy world. Enter a land where demons specialize in the torture style of being boring. Where rulers of the land yearn to be digested so they can experience the joys of excretion. Where goblins elect leaders based on how much they can eat, and an ogre’s most dangerous weapon is his scent. It is an epic tale which begins (and ends) in a pigsty.
Another vote for Three Men in a Boat here! Some of JKJ’s other books are enjoyable too, although the sequel to “Three Men” isn’t a personal favourite. He’s out of copyright, so you can get collections for nothing as ebooks.
The same goes for Saki and his short stories. Mostly humorous, although there are some exceptions, you can get a complete collection for pennies on Amazon or for nothing on Project Gutenberg.
Then there’s Tom Holt. I haven’t read much, but Expecting someone taller is very funny, especially if you know a little Wagner and/or Norse/Germanic mythology.
Spike Milligan’s war memoirs, especially the first three volumes, are riotous and anarchic.
The American/Canadian humorists, such as Mark Twain, S.J.Perelman or Stephen Leacock, have an absurd sensibility that you can definitely see trickling down the decades to Woody Allen’s books.
Other favourites include the dark humour of Andrey Kurkov’s Death and the Penguin and Nino Culotta’s books, starting with They’re a weird Mob, about an Italian immigrant trying to come to terms with Australia in the late Fifties and early Sixties. Culotta (aka John O’Grady) is especially good when it comes to dialogue.