A variety of writers, comics and academics recommend their best funny humour books and their favourite comic writing. Allen MacDuffie, Larry Doyle and Andy Borowitz all recommend their top five comic novels or comic books. Lee Camp and P J O’Rourke choose their best books of political satire.
Tom McLaughlin recommends the best humour books for kids. Ruth Wisse selects the best books on Jewish humour, and Woody Allen chooses the top five books that inspired him. The novelist Sophie Kinsella chooses her favourite chick lit books, which are funny (even if only of the tragicomic variety) as well as romantic.
The humourist, Craig Brown, recommends the best diaries and autobiographies.
Comedy offers escapism and a way of processing our emotions during stressful times, says the comedian Pippa Evans—who this year served as a judge for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. Here she talks us through the books shortlisted for the title of the funniest book of 2020, and explains how she found herself researching pig deliveries.
A prolific writer sometimes oblivious to events going on around him, PG Wodehouse remains so well loved because of his enduring characters and inimitable style, says Sophie Ratcliffe, associate professor of English at Oxford University and editor of his letters.
Ruth Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Emerita at Harvard and author of No Joke: Making Jewish Humour, identifies Tevye the Dairyman as the first standup comic and Sigmund Freud as Jewish humour's greatest analyst.