The Humorist by Russell Kane

The Humorist by Russell Kane

The Humorist by Russell Kane

Russel Kane may be best known as a stand-up and TV personality but is no stranger to the written word with a first class honours degree in English and critically acclaimed Shakespearean inspired play, Fakespeare under his belt.


His debut novel The Humorist introduces us to Benjamin White. Sufferer of a previously unseen condition, leaving him unable to laugh or even crack a smile. His reaction to comedy is clinical, on hearing a joke he can almost visualise the linguistic calculation that makes it a joke, whether it be funny or not. As a child, he was labelled as a creepy outcast and a sudden violent outburst causes him to be placed in a school for children with psychological needs.


As an adult he ends up in the one career he can dominate and thrive in. He becomes the most feared comedy critic on the circuit. This position is what leads him to investigate a potential article on death by laughter. Can a joke really be so funny it kills? While researching related literature, he comes across what appears to be a ridiculous manuscript detailing the ‘metaphysical formula of humour.’ How to perform the perfect joke. On the verge of dismissing it completely, he notices a scribbling on the back of the paper, insisting the work should be followed up. A scribbling penned by the one and only comic legend, Bill Hicks. Benjamin White decides straight away that there must be a whole lot more to this paper than meets the eye.


I should probably state at this point that I am a huge comedy fan and due to both that and my love of books, this novel really intrigued me and after reading just the first few sentences I was pulled in. With a first line of ‘In the Comedy Store, Leicester Square, London, lay three and twelve people in various poses of death, none of which were natural’ who can blame me? Don’t be fooled into thinking this will just be a simple comedy though, with a sprinkling of thrills, mystery, gore and philosophical ideas about humour, this novel is far more than that. Kane’s writing style trips along to make a fun read and had me completely engrossed for the day I zoomed through it. Although completely accessible for people who are not into stand up comedy, the more you know about the scene, the more you will enjoy the in-jokes and references. Insightful, unique, quirky and articulate, I found this book a thoroughly enjoyable read.



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