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The 50 Funniest American Writers


A man called Andy Borowitz has written a book called The 50 Funniest American Writers: An Anthology of Humor From Mark Twain to The Onion. It comes out in October. USA Today seems to know who Borowitz is but I haven’t got a clue. It’s a shame Bill Hicks didn’t write a book because I can’t think of any American comedian who has come close to him since he died in 1994. Shouldn’t John Kennedy Toole be on the list?

The 50 Funniest American Writers
Mark Twain
George Ade
O. Henry
Sinclair Lewis
Anita Loos
Ring Lardner
H. L. Mencken
James Thurber
Dorothy Parker
S. J. Perelman
Langston Hughes
Frank Sullivan
E. B. White
Peter De Vries
Terry Southern
Lenny Bruce
Tom Wolfe
Jean Shepherd
Hunter S. Thompson
Woody Allen
Bruce Jay Friedman
Philip Roth
Nora Ephron
Henry Beard
Michael O’Donoghue
George W. S. Trow
Fran Lebowitz
Charles Portis
Donald Barthelme
Veronica Geng
John Hughes
Mark O’Donnell
Garrison Keillor
Bruce McCall
Molly Ivins
Calvin Trillin
Dave Barry
The Onion
Susan Orlean
Roy Blount Jr.
George Carlin
Ian Frazier
David Rakoff
Bernie Mac
David Sedaris
Wanda Sykes
Jack Handey
David Owen
George Saunders
Jenny Allen
Sloane Crosley
Larry Wilmore

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Richard Davies

11 Responses to “The 50 Funniest American Writers”

  1. If Don Marquis isn’t on a list such as this, it’s a lousy list. Marquis is easily in the top ten.

  2. Where the hell is Kurt Vonnegut and why is he not on this list? >:(

  3. Richard Davies

    I agree with both of you guys. Lousy list.

  4. Agreed. However, Thone Smith needs to be somewhere on the list

  5. I guess people of a certain age don’t know who Borowitz is, but he’s one of the most popular comedians in the world. Maybe go to Wikipedia?

  6. Richard Davies

    Careful with your use of the word ‘world’ – the United States does not mean the entire world.

  7. I meant world. I’m from Sydney. He performed here a few years ago at Town Hall and it was standing room only. I have never laughed so hard in my life.

  8. Richard Davies

    My favourite American comedian from the past 2 decades was Bill Hicks, who sadly died on cancer.

  9. Well…lot of people I never heard of, but some on the list are very good. Carlin’s books are simply compilations of his standup acts, so including him is weak. Garrison Keillor is maybe our greatest oral storyteller, but he loses much on paper. The exclusion of Vonnegut and Carl Hiaasen simply had to be oversights of the greatest magnitude, and I’ll bet mr. Norowitz wishes he had those omissions back.

  10. I just received my copy from Library of America on Wednesday. I’m almost finished reading it and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a book. The breadth of writers they pulled together is amazing – I doubt there’s another anthology out there that would have the vision to include Mark Twain, Nora Ephron, The Onion, Bernie Mac, Dave Barry, John Hughes, Jean Shepherd… I could go on. I don’t miss Vonnegut on the list because the Library of America just did an entire volume of Vonnegut so it would be redundant to have him here. All in all I would have to say that Andy Borowitz knocked it out of the park with this one. No one will agree with every choice he made, but this is flat-out the best American humor collection I’ve seen. A+.

  11. I am not a lover of such anthologies, because they usually feel incomplete (or overlong in the attempt to be complete). However, Mr. Borowitz’s effort here is superb. From Ring Lardner to SJ Perelman to Ian Frazier and Veronica Geng, all the heavyweights are represented here. And the Library of America put it all together in a very attractive package. This is a book to treasure.