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I’ve read humor like Three Men in a Boat and PG Woodhouse, but those comes nowhere close to folks like Dave Barry or Rory Blyth.

What are some sources, blogs, books, articles, authors, etc. that you should be reading if you wanted to add humor in your writing?

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Can you specialize what kind of humor you want to add to your writings? Maybe it is geek humor, or abstract humor, or satire, or sarcasm or anything else from big shrine of humour? –  Daniel Excinsky Nov 20 '10 at 16:36
Would anybody like to clarify the distinction between "authors to read if you wanted to add humor to your writing" and "authors who write funny stuff"? If anybody's familiar with essays and books whose subject is how to write humor, those would seem particularly appropriate. –  Standback Feb 26 '11 at 17:07
It's good to see another Dave Barry fan out there. As there are already many answers given below, I would just suggest here that you read all sorts of humor, whatever you can find. Then, stick with the type you think could come from within you naturally. I enjoy a lot of writers' sense of humor, but there are only one or two authors whose type of humor I believe I could do myself. –  M.A Sep 4 '11 at 14:02

7 Answers 7

Off the cuff I would've said Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Dave Barry.

Though to be honest, I have to say I truly believe that true humour is more a talent than a skill - it is possible to learn the rudiments, but to excel at it you have to be born with and to it.

And if you listen to the sage advice of those in the industry and succeeding at it, you will hear them say time and time again: "write what you know". Surely that applies equally to humour?

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+1 for Pratchett. Though a lot of the funny in Good Omens was from Neil Gaiman. –  Larry Smithmier Nov 21 '10 at 4:11

It really depends on your sense of humor, whether you have one, and who your audience is.

If you're aiming your writing at adults, Terry Pratchet is a great read. If you're aiming at children (around 8) then Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton might help.

I also recommend you read joke books. But DO NOT use the jokes in your stories, just read them for the laughs. Find out what about the jokes makes you laugh, and what doesn't.

Try Checking out

And just remember, absurd characters, settings and plot can be just as funny (if not funnier) then a well said joke.

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+1 for Pratchett. –  Larry Smithmier Nov 21 '10 at 4:16

Harry Harrison with the Stainless Steel Rat series and Robert Asprin with Myth Adventures are two others that would be good. It would also probably be worth watching Charlie Chaplin movies, the studied simplicity of his comedy is brilliant.

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+1 for Harry Harrison, totally forgot about SSR! –  Zayne S Halsall Nov 21 '10 at 7:21
+1 for Chaplin. Never mind humor in different media - I think the study of humor in several media trains your brain to do it better in whatever media you need to work in. –  DarenW Feb 26 '11 at 5:52

If I had to name only one source, it would be M. Helitzer - Comedy Writing Secrets - the best book on comedy writing I've ever read. It explains why certain things are funny, describes techniques for brainstorming and writing jokes, and it's also a pretty funny book.


My favourite humorists are P.G. Wodehouse (Jeeves or Castle Blandings novels and short stories), David Lodge (The British Museum Is Falling Down, Changing Places) and Woody Allen (short stories). Personally I consider T. Wolfe a very funny author, especially his latest novel I Am Charlotte Simmons.


I'd also recommend listening to some stand-up comedy: George Carlin (he's the best), Eddie Murphy, David Cross, Bill Hicks, Dane Cook...

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+1 for Wodehouse. Some of the funniest prose I've ever read. Hugh Laurie has said in an interview that reading Wodehouse saved his life (Laurie is chronically depressed. And very English. Which might be redundant). –  Lauren Ipsum Sep 14 '11 at 22:06

Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) published a blog post on writing humor that could help.

There he covers topics, word-choice, analogies, and more.

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Garrison Keillor and his Prarie Home Companion.

Although a radio show, much of the humor could translate to writing. How information is revealed during a story, small detail by small detail, in what order, is very important for humor, and he's a master at that. Choice of words. Some of his show won't translate at all into writing - the excellent sound effects, tone of voice of the actors, though these things too are worthy of study in learning humor techniques.

He has books, too.

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Try these classic writers: Jerome K. Jerome, James Thurber, H. H. Munro, Mark Twain, Somerset Maugham and Thackeray. The last few are pretty good at satire.

If you want modern writers, try Terry Pratchett, Simon Rich, Allison Silverman, Woody Allen, Steve Martin and Billy Kimball. The last few have been writing for several media including television.

Hope it helps

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