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30 Authors On How To Be Funny

Some of the funniest people in the world are authors and yet authors never actually tell jokes. So how the hell do they do it? Here's 30 superb writers on what they think makes something or someone, humorous.  Lesson one: Ditch the jokes...

(Images: Rex/Wikicommons)

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny

    Oscar Wilde

    “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” 

    from Nightingale and the Rose

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 1

    Charles Dickens

    “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” 

    from A Christmas Carol

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 2

    Kurt Vonnegut

    "Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 3

    J.D. Salinger

    "I have one of those very loud, stupid laughs. I mean if I ever sat behind myself in a movie or something, I'd probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up." 

    from The Catcher In The Rye

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 4

    William Shakespeare

    "With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come." 

    from The Merchant Of Venice

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 5

    Victor Hugo

    "Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face." 

    from Les Misérables

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 6

    Maya Angelou

    “I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh.” 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 7

    Jane Austen

    "I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh." 

    from Pride And Prejudice

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 8

    Mark Twain

    "The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 9

    Dr. Seuss

    "From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!" 

    from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 10

    Saul Bellow

    "Conquered people tend to be witty." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 11

    George Bernard Shaw

    "My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world." 

    from John Bull's Other Island

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 12

    Stephen King

    "A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid. Give me a choice and I'll take A Midsummer Night's Dream over Hamlet every time. Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 13

    Aristotle

    "Comedy aims at representing men as worse, Tragedy as better than in actual life." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 14

    Gustave Flaubert

    "What stops me from taking myself seriously, even though I am essentially a serious person, is that I find myself extremely ridiculous, not in the sense of the small-scale ridiculousness of slap-stick comedy, but rather in the sense of ridiculousness that seems intrinsic to human life and that manifests itself in the simplest actions and the most extraordinary gestures." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 15

    Philip K.Dick

    "It really seems to me that in the midst of great tragedy, there is always the horrible possibility that something terribly funny will happen." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 16

    George Eliot

    "Pride only helps us to be generous; it never makes us so, any more than vanity makes us witty." 

    from Middlemarch

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 17

    George Orwell

    "The truth is that you cannot be memorably funny without at some point raising topics which the rich, the powerful and the complacent would prefer to see left alone."

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 18

    Sylvia Plath

    "If you do something incorrect at table with a certain arrogance, as if you knew perfectly well you were doing it properly, you can get away with it and nobody will think you are bad-mannered or poorly brought up. They will think you are original and very witty."

    from The Bell Jar

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 19

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    "The wittiest authors raise the very slightest of smiles." 

    from Human, All Too Human

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 20

    Flannery O'Connor

    "Only if we are secure in our beliefs can we see the comical side of the universe." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 21

    Daphne du Maurier

    "If you think I'm one of those people who try to be funny at breakfast you're wrong. I'm invariably ill-tempered in the early morning." 

    from Rebecca

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 22

    A.A.Milne

    "It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" 

    from Winnie The Pooh

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 23

    P.G. Wodehouse

    "Everything in life that’s any fun, as somebody wisely observed, is either immoral, illegal or fattening." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 24

    C.S. Lewis

    "A little comic relief in a discussion does no harm, however serious the topic may be. (In my own experience the funniest things have occurred in the gravest and most sincere conversations.)" 

    from Reflections on the Psalms

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 25

    John Steinbeck

    "Build up laughter out of inadequate materials"

    from The Grapes Of Wrath

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 26

    Harry Turtledove writing as H.N. Turteltaub

    "If you were half as funny as you think you are, you'd be twice as funny as you really are." 

    from The Sacred Land

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 27

    Lewis Carroll

    "Everything is funny, if you can laugh at it." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 28

    Miguel de Cervantes

    "The cleverest character in comedy is the clown, for he who would make people take him for a fool, must not be one." 

  • 30 Authors On How To Be Funny 29

    Terry Pratchett

    "No clowns were funny. That was the whole purpose of a clown. People laughed at clowns, but only out of nervousness. The point of clowns was that, after watching them, anything else that happened seemed enjoyable" 

    from The City Watch Trilogy

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