We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief; the great debate as to which 50 American writers are the absolute funniest of all time has finally ended.
Andy Borowitz's new book, The 50 Funniest American Writers (Library of America), is a collection of hilarious pieces ranging from O. Henty's "The Ransom of Red Chief" to Davis Sedaris' "Buddy, Can You Spare a Tire." Borowitz will be discussing the book at the Miami Book Fair this Saturday.
A brilliant comedic writer in his own right, Borowtiz's work has appeared everywhere from the New Yorker to the Huffington Post, and his satirical news site, Borotwitz Report is visited by millions worldwide. However, the writer's probably best known for his television work.
After graduating from magna cum laude from Harvard in 1980, Borowitz moved to Hollywood and wrote for various sitcoms throughout the decade. In 1990, he created The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for NBC, launched Will Smith's career into orbit, and went on to win a NAACP Image award a few years later. However, Borowitz never lost his love for comedic prose.
When it came time to narrow down the deep pool of writers to 50, Borowitz admits it was incredibly challenging. He originally started with 100, but Library of America helped him whittle it down.
"There probably is enough [demand] to do another book," he says. "I guess we're calling [50 Funniest] a surprise bestseller."
Borowitz approached 50 Funniest as if he were creating an iPod playlist for a party, admitting the collection is incredibly personal. "There's nothing more subjective than one's sense of humor," he says. "The only barometer or compass I used when I put together this collection was my taste."
Such was the case with David Rakoff's "The Writer's Life," which appears in 50 Funniest.
"[Rakoff] said to me, 'I think I have a funnier piece than the one that you chose,'" Borowtiz recalls. "He sent it to me and was actually right, it was a funnier piece. Then a couple of weeks ago, David Rakoff won the Thurber Prize for American humor."
He jokes. "I've never won the Thurber prize--I've been nominated, but I've never won--so this just proves that David Rakoff is better than I am. Not only has he won the Thurber prize, but he also picked a better David Rakoff piece than I did."
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Nevertheless, 50 Funniest is a brilliant collection, not to mention, "the perfect stocking stuffer." According to Borowitz, "you can read one of the shorter pieces while you're waiting for the bus, or one of the longer pieces while your waiting at the DMV."