Who made comedian Andy Borowitz's list of '50 Funniest' writers?
By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY
Let the arguments begin, says Andy Borowitz, in his first interview about his book, The 50 Funniest American Writers: An Anthology of Humor From Mark Twain to The Onion, (Library of America, $27.95, Oct. 13).
Who made it? Garrison Keillor, Larry Wilmore and Anita Loos. (full list below).
Who didn't? Tina Fey, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart.
"Anytime you do a best-of list, people get mad, except for the people on the list," says Borowitz, of the satirical website, BorowitzReport.com "Lists are lightening rods. That's the fun of it. And the most personal thing of all is deciding what's funny."
The list includes the usual suspects: O. Henry, H.L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker and Woody Allen, as well as more modern humorists including David Sedaris, Dave Barry and Sloane Crosley.
But what about the omissions?
Borowitz would have considered Fey's Bossypants, "but it came out after our deadline. Maybe she'll be in volume two."
And Rock and Stewart's "best work is in performance, which is better captured on video than in a book."
But he did include excerpts from books by standups, including George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Bernie Mac and Wilmore, "the senior black correspondent" of Stewart's Daily Show.
His biggest discovery?
He knew of Loos, and had seen the 1953 movie version of Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, but never read her novel, a 1925 bestseller.
Who almost made the list, but didn't?
Donald Westlake, "who wrote the funniest crime novels, but they don't lend themselves to 10-page excerpts."
Borowitz confesses any such list is arbitrary: "Someone else could do it and come up with another list: Mark Twain and 49 others. You've got to include Twain, no one stands up better over time."
He welcomes arguments, but adds, "At the end of the day, it's only a joke. It's not a credit downgrade."
The 50 Funniest American Writers (According to Andy Borowitz):
H. L. Mencken
S. J. Perelman
E. B. White
Peter De Vries
Hunter S. Thompson
Bruce Jay Friedman
George W. S. Trow
Roy Blount Jr.