Confession time: I used to be a stand up comedian. Yes, for a few short months when I started studying at Rhodes University, I used to down a shot of whatever was going and skip onstage in front of dozens of hecklers and a handful of questionable groupies. My stand up career was short lived owing to one particularly gruesome flatline of a set that my ego never recovered from. But it wasn't just that: writing comedy is bloody hard. Finding the humour in everyday events takes a steely resolve, unwavering optimism and consistent confidence. That's why authors who write comedy full time are such marvellous, strange creatures.
However, looking for a funny book is pretty much like scavenging for a snack: when you feel like one there is nothing to be found, well nothing good anyway. I am not one to let my friends snack on the mental equivalent of dry Provitas, so here is a list of hilarious, light reads that all happen to be local.
Dutch Courage, by Paige Nick. A sexy, smart story about a sheltered young woman who takes her sister's place as a Rihanna impersonator in a strip club. Paige is one of SA's most prolific authors right now, and is always a joy to read.
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotso. This book is both a funny and sad tale of two neighbours who are sworn enemies until an unforeseen event forces them together. Yewande tackles prickly issues with compassion and lightness, making it a fulfilling read.
A Single Ginger, Heidi Hayes. South African expat Lucy has landed with her particular brand of chaos in London. She has wild ginger hair, a strange accent, no money and two goals: to find a job and a man. She's not fussy abut either - she has the imagination to fill in the gaps where necessary. Expats and anyone with a fraught romantic history will relate to this indie-published gem.
Saracen at the Gates, Zinaid Meeran. If you like the wry humour and sharp observation of books like White Teeth, you'll love Zinaid's funny take on the life of a Muslim family living in Cape Town.
The Dot Spot, Dorothy Black. You've probably read Dorothy Black's writings on sex and relationships somewhere on the internet so the woman knows what she's talking about when it comes to intimate matters of the heart. As her elevator pitch says, this is a book on 'how to love and sex without losing your mind.'
Ms Conception, Pamela Power. Pamela has written a hilarious take on working motherhood that you won't want to finish. Prepare to be in stitches and, at times, a little uncomfortable! Check out my interview with her on the blog for more.
Best White, Rebecca Davis. Like stellar comedic writers such as David Sedaris, Rebecca uses a series of anecdotal essays to transform you into a heaving, guffawing wreck. Honestly, do not read this in public. You can also read my interview with her here.
The Peculiars, Jen Thorpe. I included Jen's book in this list because I love it's warm, light approach to the series subject of phobias. Her portrayal of Cape Town and its characters picks up on all it's funny intricacies in a warm, compassionate way. Her interview is over here!
PS: If at all possible, try buy your books from local indie booksellers in your city. Spread the word if you enjoy a book and share it with a friend. This is what keeps our industry alive!
PPS: I wasn't able to find nearly enough humour writers that were not white. If you know of any, particularly in South Africa, please send me a mail or message. This is meant to be a platform that represents all of us.