Wednesday, 1 August 2012
98/111 - The Humorist by Russell Kane
This is yet another book I bought very recently. I bought this on a whim, pretty much, which is totally usual for me. But what was not so usual was the subject matter, as I am not really a massive comedy nut. Don't get me wrong, I love comedy and I love to laugh, but I don't actually tend to watch a lot of stand-up mostly because I tend to find it quite obnoxious. There are a certain few comics that I like, such as Stewart Lee, mostly of the grumpy old man variety. But I really hate people like Russell Brand and Michael McIntyre. Too chirpy and loud for my taste.
This novel is written by Russell Kane, who is a comedian, although I am not at all familiar with his comedy. The novel itself is about comedy and death and how laughing and jokes make us human. The novel opens on a scene where hundreds of people are lying dead, while Benjamin, a comedy critic, is the only one left alive. It soon becomes apparent that he is responsible for the deaths of the audience members after telling them the most deadly joke alive. The novel is about how he cms to learn this joke.
I liked Benjamin because he was an outcast, but he wasn't totally stony and cold, he is actually quite self-deprecating. He is born into a family where laughter is always dominant, however from the moment he is born, he can sense and deconstruct jokes, but he is nt affected by their humour. He is totally immune to laughter, and so is seen as an unnatural being and is eventually sent away to a special school where he learns to hone his talents. Eventually he gains employment as a the most hated comedy critic in England.
Eventually, he comes across a manuscript whic alludes to a formula for pure humour and Benjamin makes it his quest to master the formula at any cost.
This was quite an interesting book, and I really enjoy stories where there is a sort of 'imagine if we lived in a world where....' principle is in action. Imagine if a joke cold be so bad that it would kill you to hear it. It was also quite dark in a lot of places, and a little odd (Benjamin is in love with his cousin, for example) but I liked it. It was also quite interesting from a historical perspective, since I know nothing about the history of humour, and I'm impressed that Russell Kane has put so much research nd effort into creating this world.
Maybe I'll check out some of his stand-up after all.
Next: How to Stay Sane by Philippa Perry.