Classics of American comedy, selected by the satirist and editor of The 50 Funniest American Writers.
New Yorker contributor, political satirist, bestselling author, standup comedian, creator of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Andy Borowitz’s career is as accomplished as it is varied. The humorist turns the spotlight on his uproarious predecessors in The 50 Funniest American Writers, which celebrates creative minds from Mark Twain to Nora Ephron. When we asked him to pick three favorites, Borowitz responded with a side-splitting trio and included the caveat, “All three books are by authors featured among The 50 Funniest.”
By Terry Southern
“Largely forgotten now, Terry Southern was so famous in the 1960’s that the Beatles included him on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, alongside Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. It’s easy to understand why when you read this book, one of the funniest American novels ever written. The Magic Christian is the story of Guy Grand, a billionaire whose mission in life is to prove that people will do anything for money. Each chapter describes an elaborate prank that Guy pulls to demonstrate his point, always with calamitous results. Is that a one-joke idea? Totally. But in the hands of a genius like Terry Southern, the joke only gets funnier each time you hear it.”
By Sinclair Lewis
“Sinclair Lewis was the first American writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But don’t hold that against him: he was actually a very funny guy, when he wanted to be. Babbitt is a satire of American commercial culture and middle-class conformity that features one of the great comic creations in American literature, the realtor George F. Babbitt. Babbitt’s attempts to rebel against the strictures of his conventional life are in equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. Years later, Richard Yates probably had Babbitt on his mind when he was writing Revolutionary Road, but he took out all the funny parts.”
By Charles Portis
“When the Coen Brothers’ adaptation of True Grit came out last year, there was a lot of debate about which version was better, theirs or the original John Wayne one. One thing is inarguable though: no movie can capture the hilarious and completely original voice of the book’s narrator, Mattie Ross. You’ll have to read Charles Portis’ novel for that, and you’ll be richly rewarded. It’s an American classic that deserves to be considered in the same league as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”