Years ago, someone quoted this to me, and I thought it was utter brilliance:
quote:'A Sombrero fell out of the sky and landed on the main street of town in front of the mayor, his cousin and a person out of work. The day was scrubbed clean by the desert air. The sky was blue. It was the blue of human eyes, waiting for something to happen. There was no reason for a sombrero to fall out of the sky. No airplane or helicopter was passing overhead and it was not a religious holiday.'
It's the first paragraph of Richard Brautigan's "Sombrero Fallout".
Satrngely, I've never actually read the book, which I'm given to understand is... odd. But not merely odd in the way the first paragraph is.
Anything Patrick McManus. He writes outdoor humor, these little vignettes of hunting, fishing, camping, and whatnot. And I've often been reduced to tears by his characters. I'd give you some examples, but I think my wife has all of my McManus books packed away to cut down on the house's hysterical laugh quotient.
Posts: 491 | Registered: Oct 2004
| IP: Logged |
Douglas Adams. And check out Jack Handy's "Deep Thoughts". I know these don't meet the original criteria, but it's been so long since I've read the Adams stuff that I can't remember the characters etc., only that it was amazingly funny. And if you could create a character with Jack Handy-like humor, that would really be fun.
Oh and there are many funny lines in "The Princess Bride", but one of the most funny ones is "I am the Brute Squad" by Fezzig (?), the Andre the Giant character.
[This message has been edited by Smaug (edited December 21, 2005).]
[This message has been edited by Smaug (edited December 21, 2005).]
Spike Milligan: Hitler, My part in his downfall.
Try the scripts to "Blackadder"
In this scene Blackadder is worried about the romantic feelings he is developing for his manservant, Bob. Bob is really a pretty girl who cleverly disguised herself as a boy in order to be hired by Blackadder. So, confused, Blackadder goes to the doctor for advice.
Doctor: Now then what seems to be the trouble?
Blackadder: Well, it is my man servant.
Doctor: I see. Well don't be embarrassed if you got the pocks. Just pop your man servant on the table and we'll take a look at him.
Blackadder: No, I mean, it is my real man servant.
Doctor: Ah, ah. And what is wrong with him?
Blackadder: There is nothing wrong with him. That is the problem. He's perfect and last night I almost kissed him.
Doctor: I see. So you started fancying boys then, have you?
Blackadder: Not boys. A boy.
Doctor: Yes, well let's not split hairs. It is all rather disgusting and naturally you're worried.
Blackadder: Of course I'm worried.
Doctor: Well, of course you are. It isn't every day a man wakes up to discover he's a screaming bender with no more right to live on God's green earth than a weazle. Ashamed of your self?
Blackadder: Not really, no.
Doctor: Bloody hell! I would be. But still why should I complain? Just leaves more rampant totty for us real men, eh?
Blackadder: Look, am I paying for this personal abuse or is it extra?
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited December 21, 2005).]
I like Adams, but he is really a little too slapstick to be perfect humor. You tend to forget his writing pretty quickly.
Better is the form of humor that builds until you fall to the floor laughing as in Eric Frank Russell's "Alamagoosa". Better yet are endless horribly lame puns as are found in "The Holes Around Mars" by Jerome Bixby.
But the funniest lines ever written are the ones which taken individually are unfunny and rather lame satire. It is only when they are combined and you finish the story that you end up chuckling to yourself for a decade or two. Phillip Jose Farmer's satire, "Venus on the Half Shell" comes to mind as being one of the best of these.
I find Terry Pratchett hilarious, though he often doesn't take himself seriously (and for that the story suffers). I found the best book I've read by Pratchett was actually a joint work, "Good Omens." It seems Neil Gaiman tempers Pratchett's penchant for ridiculousness.
And, as far as dialogue is concerned, I found certain parts of Fiddler on the Roof git-wrenchingly funny.
Lazar Wolf, the butcher, wants to marry Tevye's eldest daughter. Tevye, father of five (daughters), thinks that Lazar is trying to buy his new milk cow. Hilarity ensues.
quote: Lazar: Well, Tevye! You're here. Well, sit down, sit down.
Tevye: Thank you, thank you.
Lazar: Have a drink.
Tevye: I won't insult you by saying no.
Lazar: How goes it with you, Reb Tevye?
Tevye: How should it go?
Lazar: You're right.
Tevye: And you?
Lazar: The same.
Tevye: I'm sorry to hear that.
Lazar: Er... How is your er brother-in-law... in America?
Tevye: He's doing very well.
Lazar: He wrote you?
Tevye: No, not lately.
Lazar: How do you now?
Tevye: If he was doing poorly, he would write.
Lazar: I suppose you know why I wanted to see you.
Tevye: Oh, yes, I do. But there is no use talking about it.
Lazar: Tevye, I understand how you feel. But after all, you have a few more without her.
Tevye: Ah, I see. Today you want one. Tomorrow you may want two.
Lazar: Two? What would I do with two?
Tevye: The same as you do with one.
Lazar: Tevye. This is very important to me.
Tevye: Why is it so important to you?
Lazar: Frankly, because I am lonesome.
Tevye: Lonesome? Reb Lazar, what on earth are you talking about? How can a little cow keep you company?
Lazar: (upset) Little cow? Is that what you call her?
I'd have to say there are many great lines in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Ernest." One of my favorites is from the beginning where Jack and Algy are discussing Jack's cigarette case wherein there is a card that says it is from Cecily to Jack (and here Algy is still under the impression that Jack's name is Ernest).
quote:Algernon: But why does she call herself little Cecily if she is your aunt and lives at Tunbridge Wells? ‘From little Cecily with her fondest love.’
Jack: My dear fellow, what on earth is there in that? Some aunts are tall, some aunts are not tall. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself. You seem to think that every aunt should be exactly like your aunt! That is absurd! For Heaven’s sake give me back my cigarette case.
Algernon: Yes. But why does your aunt call you her uncle? ‘From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack.’ There is no objection, I admit, to an aunt being a small aunt, but why an aunt, no matter what her size may be, should call her own nephew her uncle, I can’t quite make out. Besides, your name isn’t Jack at all; it is Ernest.
Jack: It isn’t Ernest; it’s Jack.
Algernon: You have always told me it was Ernest. I have introduced you to every one as Ernest. You answer to the name of Ernest. You look as if your name was Ernest. You are the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn’t Ernest. It’s on your cards. Here is one of them. ‘Mr. Ernest Worthing, B. 4, The Albany.’ I’ll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me, or to Gwendolen, or to any one else.
[This message has been edited by Shendülféa (edited December 21, 2005).]
My favorite kind of humor (in writing) is the understated, dry kind that C.S. Lewis and Tolkien use so well. One of my favorite lines of all time is the opening sentance from Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
"Once there was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
It may not make me roll on the floor, but it still makes me grin after the eighth time I've read it. This is the kind of humor I aim for in my fiction, as I'm not out to write comedy.
For character-funny and not joke-funny, I would second the vote for Firefly / Serenity. Personally, I absolutely love the type of humor in this show/movie, and a good number of the characters have a dry, witty sense of humor that can't really be given in an example here (because it won't seem funny out of contex, or without inflection in their voices) but is just wonderful.
Posts: 280 | Registered: May 2005
| IP: Logged |
Why on earth hasn't anyone mentioned "Monty Python"????
'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' 'The Life of Brian' (there's another MP movie but I forget the title).
"Faulty Towers" and "Are You Being Served?" those are funny British sit-coms. Oh and who can forget "Benny Hill"??
Just my musings after reading this thread.
The exchange between King Arthur and the Black Knight is just hilarious.
I'll be looking for some quotes to put here.
Found one. Just read it. It's funny.
GOD: Arthur! Arthur, King of the Britons! Oh, don't grovel! If there's one thing I can't stand, it's people groveling. ARTHUR: Sorry-- GOD: And don't apologize. Every time I try to talk to someone it's "sorry this" and "forgive me that" and "I'm not worthy". What are you doing now!? ARTHUR: I'm averting my eyes, oh Lord. GOD: Well, don't. It's like those miserable Psalms -- they're so depressing. Now knock it off! ARTHUR: Yes, Lord. GOD: Right! Arthur, King of the Britons -- you're Knights of the Round Table shall have a task to make them an example in these dark times. ARTHUR: Good idea, oh Lord! GOD: 'Course it's a good idea! Behold! Arthur, this is the Holy Grail. Look well, Arthur, for it is your sacred task to seek this Grail. That is your purpose, Arthur -- the Quest for the Holy Grail. ARTHUR: A blessing! LANCELOT: A blessing from the Lord! GALAHAD: God be praised!
[This message has been edited by Monolith (edited December 22, 2005).]
quote:Ah, you're talking movies / TV, not books / the written word.
I am writing a book, so you’re right in that, if I am going to use a style from a movie, the words need to be funny, and I can’t rely on delivery.
For movies, I think the hardest two times I have laughed are: ’Aladdin’ – Disney DVD; when Aladdin first lets the Genie (Robin Williams) out of the lamp. Robin Williams’ delivery was awesome. “Hey Carpet! Give me some tas’al”
’Bruce Almighty’; when Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) was causing the other news anchor, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), to blabber during the news cast.
I thought about going the way of Monty Python. I almost know the ‘The Holy Grail’ by heart having seen it…. well, many times.
Mr Bean, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien I find entertaining but not bust-out laughing funny. Mr Bean is all about the delivery by Rowan Atkinson.
But I think I am trying for more of a quick wit, something more like the dialogue of Chris Knight played by Val Kilmer in the movie ‘Real Genius’ I think.
Some of the ones that get me giggling are:
quote: Professor Hathaway: When you first started at Pacific Tech you were well on your way to becoming another Einstein and then you know what happened? Chris Knight: I got a haircut? ---------- Dr. Dodd: Why is that toy on your head? Chris Knight: Because if I wear it any place else, it chafes. ---------- Mitch: The weirdest thing just happened to me. Chris Knight: Was it a dream where you were where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid, with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you? Mitch: No... Chris Knight: Why, am I the only one who has that dream? ---------- Darlington Recruiter: You're Chris Knight, aren't you? Chris Knight: I hope so. I'm wearing his underwear. ---------- Chris Knight: You see Mitch, I used to be you. Lately I've been missing me so I asked Dr. Hathaway if I could room with me again and he said sure. ---------- Chris Knight: If you think that by threatening me you can get me to do what you want... Well, that's where you're right. But - and I am only saying that because I care - there's a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing.
Has anyone read ‘A Man without a Country’ by Kurt Vonnegut? I hear its pretty funny but know nothing of his writing style.
I will look into Patrick McManus any of his books in particular stand out?
There are parts of the holy grail that are funny, but I don't especially think that was one of them. I think the funniest lines were:
"How do you know he's a king?" "Because he hasn't got $hit all over him."
How there is kind of a ritualistic humor about the Holy Hand grenade bit when it is recited in my husband's family. They just get so much enjoyment out of this it's fun to laugh along with them. But somehow I've never seen the whole movie. I always fall asleep, probably because no one ever tries to watch it at a sane hour.
For inadvertent humor, watch Serenity and then read Screenit.com's parental guide to the movie. Maybe I'll scan some of their other reviews.
Hmm. it's not lettimg me browse without a subscription. Sorry about that.
[This message has been edited by franc li (edited December 22, 2005).]
With McManus, probably any of his books have some home-run essays (I haven't read all of them yet). Like I said above, I'd give some examples, but my copies are all in a box somewhere upstairs waiting to to be moved. Two of his books I've looked through more than once are The Good Samaritan Strikes Again and They Shoot Canoes, Don't They? If you can find an essay titled something like "Shooting the Chick-a-nought Narrows," keep some tissue handy for the laughter-invoked tears. But that's just the first that popped into my head; there are others I laughed just as hard about, and many of them had more dialogue.
Posts: 491 | Registered: Oct 2004
| IP: Logged |
My favorite Monty Python movie was Life of Brian. For some reason I'm tickled when I see the scene where Brian, calling out to the masses gathered to worship him, tells them, "You are all unique! You are all individuals!" The masses intone in reply: "We are all unique. We are all individuals." Except one, lone voice in the crowd who shouts out: "I'm not!"
It's a cartoon, but check out any of the Calvin and Hobbs collections, especially the earlier ones. If I ever decide to purposely inject any humor in my writing, it will most certainly be inspired by those two.
Posts: 612 | Registered: Jul 2005
| IP: Logged |
I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck. I love Dave Barry's columns, he certainly knows how to turn a phrase.
And Dorothy Cannell, who writes mysteries, is also incredibly hilarious. The Thin Woman is the first book, about an overweight spinster who hires a man to pretend to be her fiance, so her family will be distracted from how fat she's gotten. (A movie came out recently with a similar plot device, but this book was written long before and is much funnier).
Since the discussion shifted to the printed word...I'll mention P. G. Wodehouse. I'd put up the quote I have in mind, if I could just find my copy of the book it was in...
Posts: 8009 | Registered: Aug 2005
| IP: Logged |
Pratchett is hilarious, I think, even if he doesn't take a smidgeon of his stories seriously. Rincewind, the tourist and the sentient luggage from "The Color of Magic" may be unbeatable.
What I find funny about "Holy Grail" is that it took me 20 years to figure out that, what I thought was an insult the soldiers of the French fort were yelling at the English -- "English Kaniggets" -- was actually the phonetic sounding out of "English Knights" -- for 20 years I wondered what a kanigget was.
Favorite Monty Python line is from Meaning of Life: Catholic Dad on stepping into house crowded with hordes of children: "The mill's closed! There's no more work. We're destitute." [His several dozen children murmur in dismay.] Catholic Dad: "Come in, my little ones. I've got no option but to sell you all for scientific experiments."
[This message has been edited by Lanius (edited January 01, 2006).]
Was there a narrative framework to Meaning of life? I can't remember. Of course, I only got a short way into it. I didn't get past the piano player in the restaurant, even though the scene everyone told me I just had to see was just beyond it.
Posts: 366 | Registered: Sep 2006
| IP: Logged |
Yeah, "Meaning of Life" had a structure, though not like "Holy Grail" or "Brian." Essentially it was the course of life from birth through adolesence and adulthood to middle-age and old age, then death and the afterlife.
And, franc li, if you can, get a copy of the DVD and go to the restaurant scene and keep watching---it's one of those things that really has to be seen to be believed.
If you're going to quote that much dialog, at least you could get it right. And I don't just mean remembering Sir Galahad's name, he might as well have been Sir not-appearing-in-this-movie (the castle of peril bit was kinda funny though, wasn't it?).
Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999
| IP: Logged |
Yeah, everyone knows it's not Castle Ughhh, it's castle Aaaaargh (back of the throat.)
Personally, one of my favorite parts of that movie that has everything to do with dialogue and nothing really to do with action of inflection is the reading of the use of the holy hand grenade.
"First, thou shalt take out thy holy pin. Then, thou shalt count to three. No more, no less. Three is the number thou shalt count to, and the number of counting shall be three. Four thou shalt not count, noy thee count thee two, unless then you are proceeding to three. Five is right out.
After counting three, being the third number be reached, thou shalt lobbith the holy hand grenade towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."
The redundancy is so wonderfully reminiscent of some biblicial verses (a favorite example of mine being when, I think at some point when God is speaking to Moses, it is written that Moses was commanded to remove his sandals... from his feet. Just in case we thought he was wearing them on his head or something.) Personally, I just find it hilarious.
The Castle Anthrax scene is still my favorite. Although, I am a great fan of potty humor. "Spank me!" Monty Python Humor is so much fun!
I was watching "Top Secret" on satellite tonight, and was reminded how funny that movie was. I hadn't seen that for years. It is very similar to "Airplane", only more funny, in my opinion. So many quick sarcastic remarks. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.
I am kind of surprised that nobody has mentioned Mel Brooks yet. Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein are at the top of my list! OK, enough movie talk.
In literature, one of my recent favorites for humor is Laurie Notaro. I read "The Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club", and laughed my ass off. Definately one to check out for a humor reference. Michael Malone is another author I have read and liked. Both authors were recomended more or less as a dare, because they weren't my "normal fare". It ended up that I loved both books. Very funny!
Humor movie-wise: hello? Christopher Guest comes out with a new one every few years that's amazingly brilliant. "A Mighty Wind" is great!
Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer): "And Mr. Irving Steinbloom came down and he signed us to Folk Town which was, uh, the label to be on." Jerry Palter (Michael McKean): "Terrific label." Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest): "Later on we were kind of moved down the food chain a bit to the Folk Tone label, which was a subsidiary." Jerry: "It was a decent label, they just didn't have the distribution." Alan: "Well, they just didn't have... Well, they didn't have any distribution." Jerry: "No distribution at all." Mark: "And the covers were printed in two colors instead of four, which I noticed was a problem." Alan: "Yeah. And they had no hole in the center of the record. So a lot of..." Jerry: "No, you had to provide it yourself." Alan: "...the people complained that you'd get this vinyl, of course in those days, and it's up to you to center it and make the actual..." Mark: "It would teeter crazily on the little spindle." Alan: "... the hole. And that was, of course, we had no control over that aspect of it, but, uh..." Jerry: "But they were still good records. They were good product." Mark: "If you punched a hole in them, you'd have a good time." Jerry: "Yeah." Alan: "Um-hmm."
Makes me chuckle.
Books, I just finished rereading Christopher Moore's "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal". Don't advertise this one at church, it's not terribly, er, moral, but it's hilarious and profound and touching at the same time. Moore's an excellent writer.
After Jesus ("Joshua" in the book) has just learned to multiply food:
"This ability to increase the bounty of food - imagine what we can do for the people of Israel, of the world." "Yes, Josh, for it is written: 'Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach a man to be a fish and his friends eat for a week.'" "That is not written. Where is that written?" "Amphibians five-seven." "There's no friggin' Amphibians in the Bible." "Plague of frogs. Ha! Gotcha!" "How long's it been since you had a beating?" "Please. You can't hit anyone, you have to be at total peace with all creation so you can find Sparky the Wonder Spirit." "The Divine Spark." "Whatever, th--ouch. Oh great, and what am I supposed to do, hit the Messiah back?" "Turn the other cheek. Go ahead, turn it."
Just found another "Mighty Wind" quote:
Terry Bohner: "This is not an occult science. This is not one of those crazy, uh systems of divination and astrology. That's stuff's hooey and you gotta have a screw loose to go in for that sort of thing. Our s... Our, our, our beliefs are fairly commonplace and simple to understand. Humankind is simply materialized color opperating on the 49th vibration. You would, uh. make that conclusion walking down the street or going to the store."
[This message has been edited by Ransom (edited January 07, 2006).]