Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I didn't die laughing (as promised)

On a recent trip to London, during one of my many browsing sessions in bookstores, I came across this slim volume that sounded intriguing.  Dead Funny is a collection of short horror stories by comedians.  Looking through the table of contents, I recognized many of the names, including Richard Herring, Katy Brand, Phill Jupitus and Reece Shearsmith.  Many of the other authors were unknown to me, but apparently are well-known in the UK.

The collection begins with "Dog" by Reece Shearsmith.  This recounts a young boy's discussion of his distaste for dogs, why he blames dogs for his brother's death, and how he went about getting his revenge on the canine race.  The following stories, not surprisingly, were a bit uneven.  Some were interesting enough, but others I had to stop before finishing because they just didn't capture my interest.  There are stories about horrifying spiders (I'm sure we can all relate), puppets, vampires and evil entities conjured up by Ouija board.

My favorite story in the collection was "The Patient" by Mitch Benn.  It described a perfectly calm and methodical doctor who has obviously been driven insane by the deaths of his wife and daughter at the hands of a drunk driver.  When the culprit is given an insultingly short prison sentence, the doctor is waiting to exact his own protracted form of revenge on the man once he's released. However, all doesn't go according to plan. The other story I especially enjoyed was "For Roger" by Katy Brand.  In this story, retired Roger, while searching for mice, uncovers a diary in his own handwriting hidden in the attic.  It is for the near future, and recounts some disturbing events.  Can he prevent them from happening, and how did he manage to foretell the future?

After reading the collection, I can say that if there was meant to be any humor in the stories, I missed it completely.  I can see where the horror aspect of most of the stories was included, but anyone looking for humor with their horror will be disappointed!  I was interested to see that several of the authors used the same "twist" at the end -- recounting a person or event that is later revealed to the reader not to have existed.

All in all, the stories were enjoyable if not exactly side-splitting.  It was great to read some fiction by some performers that I have enjoyed in the comedy realm over the years.

Final Verdict for Dead Funny Three Gherkins, for living up to the horror, if not the funny promise of the title

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