Humorous writing is a broad term encompassing fiction, nonfiction and poetry. It can include everything from comedians’ memoirs, to satirical novels, to nonsense poetry. It can also refer to writing which, while not primarily comic, has humorous undertones, whether the wise-cracking detective of noir fiction or the witty repartee of dialogue in a Regency romance. While humorous works are often contrasted negatively against those works with a serious approach, this is a very limited view of literature, one which dismisses both the profound cultural impact and the popularity of humorous writing. It also overlooks the many acclaimed writers who have applied their talent for wit to their work. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and Ambrose Bierce are all part of the literary canon, but their writing is frequently, overtly funny.
While humor can be said to have a kind of regionality to it, in its tone or points of reference, really great funny writing has an almost universal appeal. From the enduring hilarity of Cervantes’ Don Quixote set in Medieval Spain, to the 2017 Man Booker International winner A Horse Walks into Bar by David Grossman set in an Israeli comedy club, humorous writing has an appeal that transcends language and culture.