Laughing is important. Laughing has a whole range of benefits; physiological, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and more.  All the more reason for me to compile this list of the funniest books of all time. Books that make you laugh can be hard to come by, so I reached out to some of the most well-read people I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing, as well as a couple of comedians. I asked them to name what they believe to be the funniest books they’ve read. The result is a list of the funniest books – guaranteed to make you chuckle, giggle and laugh.   You can discover the panel of contributors at the end of the article, but let’s dive straight into the books.

Please enjoy this reading list of the funniest books of all time…

yes man - funniest booksYes Man by Danny Wallace

Paul Taylor:

I read this book on my year abroad at Uni when I was in Canada/Australia and it basically changed my outlook on life at that point. On reflection, I was always a negative whinger who never wanted to be social or go out and do things and after reading this very funny account of Danny saying yes to everything, I started to try it out a bit for myself and it for sure opened me up to experiences that I wouldn’t have done before. I probably should read it again since I’ve gone back to being grumpy after 10 years living in Paris!

Perhaps one of the first but definitely one of the best picture books to turn the conventions of the book on its head. From lampooning traditional fairy tales, breaking the fourth wall to crushing characters with the title page this book is anarchically post-modern and self-referential in its humour. It also contains one of my favourite moments of bathos in its retelling of the tale of the ugly duckling, but you’ll have to read the book to see that.

tvgohome - funniest booksTVGoHome by Charlie Brooker

Alexis Dubus: 

If we’re talking about a book that will make me laugh any time I pick it from the shelf and select a random page, this is the one. Brooker’s fake TV listings guide, expanded from his original website of the same name, displays the blueprint for his mixture of savage, silly satirical smut since used to great effect on numerous TV shows. As with most of his work, an absolute intensity pervades the whole thing, from the barbed satirical entries (Daily Mail Island, Cynical Multinational Global Ethnic Diversity Shitvert Of The Year) to the exceedingly puerile (Inspector Bumhat, Honey I Browndicked An Acrobat). I recently found out that Chris Morris provided additional material (as “Sid Peach”), which is no surprise given the rich comedy language used throughout its pages, raising it way above most website-to-book adaptations.

priestdaddy - funniest booksPriestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Blythe Roberson:

This book, a memoir about growing up with a father who is a married Catholic priest (he got special permission from the Vatican) and then moving back in with him as an adult, is the funniest thing I have ever consumed. Funnier than any book, TV show, movie, a stand-up hour — anything. Is it illegal that Patricia Lockwood, a poet, is more hilarious than the people I know who work in comedy? Probably!!! I read this book on a plane and tried not to laugh because I didn’t want to annoy every single other person on the flight. So instead I silently rocked back and forth sobbing quiet tears of laughter, looking very normal.

a confederacy of duncesA Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Shane Joseph:

My first nomination for one of the funniest books I’ve read is A Confederacy of Dunces. Ignatius J. Reilly is certainly one of literature’s unforgettable characters, and so are many of the supporting cast of this farcical morality play, written by a writer who committed suicide in his 32nd year, winning the Pulitzer posthumously. Ignatius, a self-proclaimed genius, is lazy, opinionated, hypochondriacal, idealistic, flatulent and sexually scared, content to relieve himself with solo performances in his room. There is an ending reminiscent of the movie “The Graduate.” We are left wondering if Ignatius, now re-united with Myrna, and free of the confederacy, will step out of his comfort zone finally and have that one explosive orgasm with her that will restore him to normalcy and retire him from the pages of literature as one heck of an unforgettable guy! We shall never know, for John Kennedy Toole, like Ignatius, made a hurried and unexpected departure from the literary stage, much to our loss.

Monty Python - all the wordsAll The Words Volume 1 and 2 by Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Jeff Kreisler:

Scripts from, I believe, every sketch in the greatest sketch comedy show in the history of humanity.  A master class in comedy writing and a nonstop laugh fest… plus an invitation to hit Youtube and (re)watch them all.

I remember reading this when I first moved to France. My wife (new French girlfriend at the time) bought it for me and while I don’t remember any of it, I remember finding it hilarious, because I could relate to a lot of what was being said. This is another book I need to re-read because, after my stand-up show #FRANGLAIS, I would get audience members asking me if I’d read the book, so it seems we went through similar experiences.

Portnoy's complaint - funniest booksPortnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

Shane Joseph:

The device of the patient on the couch ranting to his shrink about all that’s wrong with him: his parents, his rabbi, his community, the rest of the world, and is an interesting device for the author to jettison his own beefs and get his rocks off on the human race. And Portnoy seems to be Roth’s boldest character. I now see where the Seinfeld series got its inspiration from; George Costanza is a balder shoo-in for Roth’s masturbating monster. The writing brims with vitality, and yet the repetition of the rant wears thin after a while and we wonder, whose side is this guy on? This is a great book for young men emerging into a hostile world and protesting about everything they see in it and blaming their parents for the mess they are in.

the idiot - funniest booksThe Idiot by Elif Batuman

Blythe Roberson:

Another woman who should be in jail for being a verified actual genius — her pieces for the New Yorker are *chef’s kiss* — but writing a book that is “group of 16 comedy writers in a room” level of funny. It’s a novel about an 18-year-old Harvard student developing a crush on an older student and then doing… absolutely nothing about it? Genius. I used to hate when people (men) described my writing as “relatable” but honestly… as an idiot, this book is very relatable.

pigeon PI - funniest booksPigeon P.I. by Meg McLaren

Elys Dolan:

This book is a true detective noir with all the grit and intrigue you’d expect from such a tale. The thing is as soon as you combine this genre with birds, specifically pigeons, it becomes incongruous in a way that can’t help but get a giggle. With this book, you get the best of both worlds, a good old mystery and a good old laugh.

naked pictures of famous people - funniest booksNaked Pictures of Famous People by Jon Stewart

Jeff Kreisler:

From 1998, i.e. before The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a collection of short pieces that demonstrate the range and wit and reasons why he became the leading comedic figure of an era. Funny.

let's go Jeff Tweedy - funniest booksLet’s Go (So We Can Get Back) by Jeff Tweedy

Blythe Roberson:

Gotta include a token man on this list! Obviously, if you’re out to read a book by a funny man you should just read anything by David Sedaris. His whole thing is he’s funny. But, I guess, continuing on my theme of incredulously learning people can be funny and ALSO incredibly good at literally anything else, I was shocked by how funny Jeff Tweedy (lead singer of Wilco)’s memoir was. I read this when I was a researcher at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Tweedy came on to promote it. I pitched a bit where, because Tweedy is so funny, he writes for our show for a day and our grumpiest writer, Glen, had to be the lead singer of Wilco for a day. No one else liked this idea.

I, partridge - funniest booksI, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan by Alan Partridge

Alexis Dubus:

Steve Coogan’s alter-ego has always been a masterclass in character comedy and this relentlessly funny memoir from the deluded sports presenter turned chat show host packs in just as many gags-per-minute as the TV series (depending on your reading speed). From the suitably pretentious opening chapter to the suggested music playlist in the appendix, it never lets up, also rewarding fans of the series with Alan’s personal takes on what we’ve already objectively witnessed on screen. An absolute cringe-worthy gem of a read.

the new neighboursThe New Neighbours by Sarah McIntyre

Elys Dolan:

In this book, the animal residents of a tower block get themselves all up in arms about the new rat neighbours that have moved in downstairs. Watching the hysteria build to absurd and totally overblown levels gives this book a wealth of comedy but at the same time, it tackles the prejudices we see rearing their ugly heads all too often. The genius here is that the humour in this book stops the underlying message from being finger-wagging or preaching. It’s a book with a conscience and a funny bone.

life and laughing - funniest booksLife and Laughing by Michael McIntyre

Paul Taylor:

Michael was my favourite comedian for a while and it was amazing, as a new comedian, to read this autobiography of his life and time starting out in comedy. The business and industry in France are nothing like in the UK, but it definitely inspired me to get up on stage and keep trying to be funny to complete strangers. I imagine it’s also great to read if you’re not trying to become a comedian!

side effects - funniest booksSide Effects by Woody Allen

Jeff Kreisler:

My final nomination for a list of the funniest books I’ve read is Side Effects by Woody Allen. Woody’s life is problematic. This collection of absurd short stories is hilarious. I leave it to readers to decide whether or not supporting the work is supporting the man, but I remind them that taking something out from the library is free and the author gets no money from it.

A ribald collection of recollections, essays, stories and exaggerations from Sri Lanka’s own Baron Munchausen.Whether it is winking at the queen, wrestling with a 20-foot python, sitting out the graveyard shift with a corpse that refuses to stay dead, or transporting a viper inside a plastic bag in a bus full of inquisitive commuters, Muller is up to the task of finding the most hilarious angle in each event and exploiting it to the fullest, providing the reader with a belly ache by the end of every story. To the first time reader of Carl Muller, this is a great primer on the author who has been mainly responsible for depicting, in a humorous and unflattering manner, the lives of the Ceylon Burghers with his Jam Tree trilogy, and who has captured and frozen a way of life that has all but disappeared in contemporary Sri Lanka.

Meet our expert panel…

Looking for a laugh from reading, I decided to reach out to a combination of authors and comedians and ask them to nominate the funniest books they’ve read. They obliged and each nominate the three funniest books they’ve read; the result – a side-splitting list of books.  Let’s meet our amazing panel…

Elys DolanElys Dolan

Elys Dolan is an author and illustrator based in Cambridge where she studied children’s book illustration. Her work has been recognised with numerous awards, she is the winner of the Zena Sutherland Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature 2015, Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2014 and shortlisted for The Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2013. Her most recent book is entitled Super Snail.

Alexis DubusAlexis Dubus

Alexis Dubus is a comedian and actor, perhaps best known for his character and French alter ego, Marcel Lucont.  He studied Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Warwick. His comedy has seen him appear on popular TV shows such as Russell Howard’s Good News and Live at the Electric.  Alexis has also worked as an actor, and can be seen in some of my favourite TV shows, such as Nathan Barley and Derek.

Jeff KreislerJeff Kreisler

Jeff Kreisler is an author, speaker, pundit, comedian and advocate for behavioural science. He uses humour & research to understand the world.  He was the winner of the Bill Hicks Spirit Award for Thought Provoking Comedy, he writes for TV, politicians & CEOs, shares insights & wit on CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC & SiriusXM. His most recent book is entitled Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter.

Blythe RobersonBlythe Roberson

Blythe Roberson is a writer and comedian whose work has been published by the New Yorker, The Onion, ClickHole, VICE Magazine, and others. She works as a researcher at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Blythe’s most recent book, How to Date Men When You Hate Men is a comedy philosophy book aimed at interrogating what it means to date men within the trappings of modern society.

Shane Joseph Shane Joseph

Shane Joseph is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada. He began writing as a teenager and has never stopped. Redemption in Paradise, the first novel from Shane, was published in 2004. His latest novel, released in 2019, is Milltown, a tale of intrigue in a small Ontario town. He has written short stories and articles for several Canadian anthologies and in literary journals around the world.

Paul TaylorPaul Taylor

Paul Taylor is a comedian with a rather fascinating story.  Born in England, Paul went on to grow up in France, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.  In 2015, he quit his corporate job with Apple, to pursue a career in comedy. He has now had the chance to perform in France, Spain, USA, China and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He has also created, written and starred in his own TV show on Canal+ called What The Fuck France.

If you had to cast your vote for the funniest books of all time, which would you pick? Comment below and let us know which books you’d recommend as the funniest books you’ve read. 

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