Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Are Books With Multiple Authors Funnier?

Flickr Credit: john.fletcher39
I love funny books.

Glancing over my favorites bookshelf, there isn’t a one without a rapier wit or clever turn of phrase. Sometimes this language belongs to a single character, but it’s all the better when it’s weaved into the narration itself. If sarcasm isn’t the quickest way to my heart, then it’s surely the quickest way to my head.

I am on a quest for funny books, so humor me this question: do you think books with multiple authors are funnier?

Okay, that is not exactly what I want to know. Better to ask something along the lines of, “Are fictional books written by multiple authors humorous as a collective—which isn’t to say that they are all funnier than every book written by one person but that when two or more people sit down and write a book together they go for laughs more than other reactions—at least in general?”

That is a stupidly long question to turn into a blog post title, though. I decided to pass.

My question stands. Are we usually meant to laugh when two people team up to write a story? Is there ever a story where we’re only meant to cry? Or get nightmares so bad we wet our pants? Because in my experience, the humor always comes first.

via Goodreads
Tesla’s Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman | When fourteen-year-old Nick finds some of Nikola Tesla’s inventions in his house he ends up visiting the morgue and maybe ends the world. As much as they pack science and thrills into this story, I mostly remember cackling at the jokes because they were so fun. I knew I was supposed to be smiling, and I did.

via Goodreads
Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal | Pregnant sixteen-year-old Elvie Nara’s life gets turned on its ear when her spaceship school gets invaded by aliens, one of whom is her baby daddy. I love Elvie’s voice. She’s relatable and admirable, but her flippancy, attitude, and the general absurdity of the story is what makes it most endearing to me.

via Goodreads
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodie Meadows | This is the story of Lady Jane Grey but instead of Protestants they are shapeshifters. This is fine with me because historically I would belong to the shapeshifters and how cool is that. Anyway. From the Greek-Chorus-like narration to the Princess Bride references to calling sex “the very special hug” I was highly amused while reading about one of my favorite historical periods. Why don’t we rewrite history like this more often?

Have I read funnier books? Certainly. Have they been authored by one person? Also true. But I haven’t read many books that have more than one author to their name and yet aren’t funny. If that happens, they are usually:

a) non-fiction (or something close to it)
b) a graphic novel (in which case the other person is actually the artist but they deserve that credit)
c) an adaption (like how Pride and Prejudice and Zombies lists Jane Austen as a writer due to the direct quotes)
d) a compilation (poetry, short stories, etcetera)

To be fair, I make it sound like there’s a lot of room for exceptions. Maybe that’s true, but since my focus is on novels, A, B, and D don’t really apply. And Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is really funny so I’m not really hurting my case on that roll.

I guess I just want to know why. I remember attending a reading of Tesla’s Attic with both Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman. I don’t remember the exact words, but Eric Elfman told us, they had a lot of fun writing together—especially the funny parts. Those bits were only given the okay when both writers would laugh at the section. Then they’d know they were doing it right.

Is everyone like that? Do writers come together because they like laughing, and laughing with others? Is it just easier to produce quality humor together as opposed to quality tragedy or horror? Do people who don’t want to be humorous not work well with others?

I have no clue. But it’s a pattern I’ve glimpsed so I wondered—have you noticed it, too?

Do you think when authors team up they intend to write humorously?


  1. I adore funny books, but I've never really thought about this before. Some of the books I find funniest--like The Sisters Grimm, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Artemis Fowl--are written by just one author. Still, I think there's a lot of potential for hilarious stuff if two writers can come up with ideas together and work off each other. I know that I tend to come up with my wackiest concepts when I'm tossing ideas back and forth with someone else.

    1. *nods* I'm not saying that books with two authors are the most hilarious to be written... I mean, I think Artemis Fowl is probably funnier than at least two of the above books combined. But just through the genres, I wonder how the divisions add up.

  2. I dunno. I haven't read many books written by multiple authors....

    1. I haven't either, and they're not as common, so that's also a limitation on my own analysis.


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