Article by Howard of Warwick
What’s so funny?
The top 10 funny women from British History?
Try finding the top 10 funny anything from history.
History likes disasters, wars and great feats. It has rules, and appears not to let people or things in just for being funny – unless they did it on purpose; Gracie Fields, Joan Sims, Peggy Mount, Stella Gibbons?
To gain admission to real history you have to be heroic, important or influential; Grace Darling, Emmeline Pankhurst, Jane Austen.
But all the characters of history can be hilarious – in their own right, or the right hands.
- Queen Elizabeth 1: In Blackadder.
- Jane Austen: a very funny writer.
- Queen Victoria: What was Blackadder’s problem with royalty?
- Millicent Martin: TW3 – but is that history?
- The Lady of the Lake: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Boudicca: Horrible Histories.
- Florence Nightingale; It’s that Blackadder again.
- Cleopatra: Carry On Cleo: OK, not British originally but a very British film.
- The Mother of Brian: Monty Python’s life of Brian. (Not British, not real and not really a woman.)
- Probably you…
So why do women find history funny? Strange question really. Women find all sorts of things funny.
No two sense of humours are alike
Your sense of humour is one of your most intimate features. And no two are alike. You may laugh like a hyena at the slapstick of Laurel and Hardy – while your partner despises it. Really despises it. Of all the genres, humour seems to be the one where people are absolutely certain that their opinion is the right one.
You must have read a book in stony silence that was recommended as being the funniest thing EVER.: “But it’s hilarious, you must find it funny. What’s wrong with you? God, you’ve got no sense of humour.”
You never get that with thrillers or romance.
Humorous novels are in the minority and humorous histories positively scarce. But people always like something new and a bit different. The evidence is that women simply read more novels than men in the first place. They attend more book groups and use libraries more. Hardly surprising they’re going to be the majority readers for my series.
Historical fiction is a hugely popular genre, very often involving a detective of some sort. What it hasn’t had is a comic twist. But now Monty Python meets Cadfael, as reviewers have commented, or Terry Pratchett does 1066.
My Howard of Warwick books are light and pretty silly; they are for people who like silly. Silliness gets the laughter flowing. One mantra is that comedy must come from character. That’s true, but those characters still have to say or do funny things. I only write what I think is funny, I am just fortunate that so many others share my opinion.
When you come down to it the only person who truly knows what’s funny is the one doing the laughing. (Unless there’s something very wrong with them.)
He’s also done some very questionable things to the great events of the past in the Domesday Book (No, Not That One) and The Magna Carta (Or Is It?).