Oline Cogdill
alt"Dying is easy, comedy is hard."

That quote has been around for decades, maybe even centuries. Yet no one seems to agree on who actually said it.
Aside from being a line said by Peter O’Toole in the movie My Favorite Year, that line also has been attributed to Edmund Kean, Edmund Gwenn, and Donald Crisp. It could also be one of those phrases that no one said but has become part of our lexicon.

What is true, though, is comedy is hard.

Finding the mesh of humor to appeal to a wide range of people isn't easy. Each of us has a different sensibility. What's funny to me, may not be funny to you. And visa versa.

Comedy is even harder in mysteries.

I've been thinking a lot about humor in mysteries after just finishing Tim Dorsey's recent novel, Electric Barracuda. Dorsey is the Three Stooges of the mystery world, mixing slapstick, politically incorrect humor and wild escapades into what could be called a novel. The plots are outlandish and the characters unbelievable.
Yet for me, they work.

Still, Dorsey's humor isn't for everyone and that's all right.

The mystery genre is blessed with a number of very funny mystery writers. What makes these novels work is the fact that the authors take care to keep the seriousness of the murder serious but find the humor in the absurd behavior of people.

I like different kinds of humor.
Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series never fails to make me laugh. Yeah, the plots are the same and Stephanie is still the same person she was when Evanovich began that series with One for the Money. The latest is Sizzling Sixteen and I hope Evanvich can keep that series going for another 16 novels.

Donna Andrews, Elaine Viets and Nancy Martin write funny. Paul Levine also writes funny with his Solomon vs Lord series. And let's also add in Toni Kelner and Steven Forman. Harlan Coben has that perfect mix of humor and seriousness with his Myron Bolitar series.

I know I am forgetting some very funny writers. Who are your favorites?