Funny Guys: Christopher Moore and … Stuart MacBride?

I am a humor ho’. I love funny people. Make me laugh and I can forgive a cartload of sins and failings. If a writer is funny, well, I’ll probably end up a fan for life.

Like this, which is to me one of the funniest passages I’ve ever read:

“Get it over with. Go ahead.” Charlie stretched his neck as if offering his throat to be cut– his strategy was to lure his captor into range, then sever the tall man’s femoral artery with his teeth, then gloat as the blood coursed all over his mint-green slacks onto the floor. Charlie would laugh long and sinister as he watched the life drain out of the evil bastard, then he would hop his chair out to the street and onto the streetcar at Market, transfer to the number forty-one bus at Van Ness, hop off at Columbus, and hop the two blocks home, where someone would untie him. He had a plan– and a bus pass with four more days left on it– so this son of a bitch had picked the wrong guy to fuck with.

from A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore

(don’t “look inside” click here)

Funny as that bit is by itself, it’s even funnier in context. Charlie is the pitch-perfect depiction of a Beta Male who is earnestly awkward and clueless about his skewed vision of the world. The thing is, Charlie doesn’t know he’s funny. He wouldn’t know how to tell a joke, much less crack wise.

Even typing that out for you has made me want to read the book again (for about the tenth time, yet another of my treasures turned into a raggedy specimen)

Christopher Moore is a funny, funny writer. He’s known for his humor. Many of the writers I find funny aren’t considered humorous writers. They just are.

Take Stuart MacBride, for instance. He’s a Scot who writes a mystery series featuring Logan MacRae. Logan is a policeman on the Grampian force. He’s brilliant, dogged, and he always gets his man. He’s surrounded by lunatics. It’s a miracle at times that Logan can survive the station house much less the dangerous criminals on the street. The novels are dark, gritty, violent. Some of the crimes depicted are heart breaking. MacBride doesn’t pull any punches or gloss over the ugliness. At the same time, the books are so funny the Old Man groans when I sit down in the evening with a new MacBride novel. Because he knows that every five minutes or so I’ll be saying, “Mute the TV, honey. You have to hear this.”

Like this little gem with DI Steel (who has the most inventively profane mouth I’ve ever encountered. I am in awe)

“Exactly. And while he’s off on the sick, who do you think gets lumbered with his caseload? Muggins. Like I don’t have enough on my plate.” Steel puffed out her cheeks and slumped even further. “I’m knackered the whole time; Jasmine won’t stop screaming; Susan’s nerves are in tatters so she’s getting on mine; nobody’s sleeping…” Sigh. “Don’t get me wrong: Jasmine’s a wee darling, but Jesus. Now I know why some animals eat their young.”

Logan yawned again. “At least you didn’t get dragged out of your bed after an hour, by a grumpy–“

“Oh boo bloody hoo. For your own good, remember?” The inspector polished off the last of her buttie, swilling it down with another mouthful of coffee. “Dying for a shag, too. Bloody Susan’s still no’ up for it– they had to stitch her bits back together, and you know it’s–“

Logan held up a hand. “I’m eating.”

“–like a donor kebab…”

from Shatter the Bones, by Stuart MacBride

Or this bit, again with the lovely Steel:

Steel paused beside a CID pool car with ‘DIRTY PIGGY BASTARDS!!!’ spray-painted in dripping letters along the side, and produced a little plastic stick coloured to look like a cigarette. She stuck it in her mouth and tried for a puff. Then pulled the thing out and squinted at it. Had another go, sooking her cheeks hollow.

“Sodding bugger-monkeys…” She thrust the fake cigarette at Logan. “You– man– fix.”

Logan watched DCI Finnie storm through the back doors into FQH, Superintendent Green flowing along behind him. Like a cat in a reasonably-priced suit.

“When the press finds out Jenny’s dead, we’re screwed. They’ll–“

“Fix it, fix it, fix it!”

also from Shatter the Bones, by Stuart MacBride

(see the book, click here)

I don’t know if MacBride sets out to be intentionally funny or if he’d be insulted to know I think he’s one of the most humorous writers around. The thing is, his stories are so dark and violent, I don’t know if they’d be bearable without the crazy cast of characters and the funny dialogue.

Many of the writers I consider funny haven’t been pigeon-holed as humor writers. Most are like MacBride, writing one thing for one effect, but including some passages that nearly have me peeing my pants.

S. G. Browne: Breathers: A Zombie Lament has a zombie protesting for civil rights.

Larry Doyle: Go, Mutants! is a homage to B movies and teen angst.

Andrew Fox: Fat, White Vampire Blues and the even funnier, Bride of the Fat, White Vampire

William Goldman: The Princess Bride is the best read out loud novel ever!

Charlie Huston: the Joe Pitt Casebooks one of my favorite vampires.

Richard Kadrey: Sandman Slim who ever thought a decapitated head could be funny? Try this.

A. Lee Martinez: everything he writes is funny, but my fave funny? In The Company of Ogres

Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club is sick and twisted funny

Thomas Pynchon: gonzo detective fiction is always funny, but Inherent Vice is the funniest.

So what about the rest of you? Anyone else in love with funny fiction? Who are your faves?


8 responses

  1. A Short History of a Small Place by T. Pearson

  2. On my list. Thanks, qm

  3. Oh, I have got to read Stuart McBride! I never read anything funny, at least not on purpose. It’s always by accident and I can’t even think of a single title. Waaaaa!

  4. I’ll take funny over just about anything else, Julia. And I love it when I find a writer who can make me laugh in the midst of intensity.

  5. Hmmm. Is Terry Pratchett too obvious?

    How about Connie Willis? I thought “To Say Nothing of the Dog” was humorous, in an understated way. So was “Bellwether.”

  6. I haven’t read Terry Pratchett. Will have to give him a shot. I love Willis’s “…Dog,” but it wasn’t mute the tv you have to hear this funny to me. Ooh, but now you’ve made me want to go find some Connie Willis. I love how strange and startling she can be.

  7. Christopher Moore is so funny. It’s hard not to be influenced by him!

    1. I will agree with you there, Eli. I wish I could be even half as funny as he is.

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