Who Is The Funniest Character In Literature?
Posted on 4th of August, 2018


Voracious readers probably have a larger pool to pick from but I have been working my way through the classics, so here are my top picks.

-Major Major from Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.
-Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.
-Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.
-Bertie Wooster from The Jeeves and Wooster books by P. G. Wodehouse.
-Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
-Don Quixote from Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
-Frieda Wentworth from At Freddie's by Penelope Fitzgerald.
If you enjoy British humor, which to be honest is mostly snark and sarcasm, then you will love the character of Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Forget the movie, it does a pretty poor job of capturing the wit and weary resignation of Arthur as he finds himself not only losing his house, but also his planet when some aliens decide Earth is in the way of their hyperspace bypass. This is just the beginning of his adventures and his comments and reactions to the absurdity of the situations that he finds himself in kept me laughing throughout the books. Douglas Adams had a definite knack for funny characters and it's not just Arthur who can make you laugh, but also the rest of the cast, especially Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android.
Is there really a thing such as a funniest character in literature? Plenty of characters in books have made me laugh out loud, but so have many people in reality and I wouldn't consider any of them to be the funniest. A character that just tries to be funny all the time is going to be like a clown and not very useful for the progression of the story. Books should include humor sure, but characters that are just funny all the time will be too one dimensional.
I have found that comedy is unfortunately one of the things that become very dated in literature, especially when authors try to incorporate elements of what is funny at the time of writing. Of course there are exceptions to this, but in general characters who may have been laugh out loud funny in their time now just come across as shallow or dated.
I haven't read nearly enough books to conclusively answer this, but from all the books that I have read there is one character that stands out. His name is Rincewind and he can be found in a number of the Discworld novels by British author, Terry Pratchett. Rincewind is a wizard, but not a very good one and flunked out of the Unseen University if I remember correctly. The only skills Rincewind seems to possess is the ability to turn just about any situation into a catastrophe and then run away from the people who inevitably want to kill him. Rincewind isn't actually the bumbling fool that he and everyone around him believes he is, but that just makes the situations that he finds himself in even funnier. Rincewind isn't in all of the books, so read The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Sourcery, Eric, Interesting Times, The Last Continent and The Last Hero to follow his adventures.

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