There was much excitement down in the Hothouse crypt when a copy of Dead Funny was posted under the dungeon door. A collection of horror stories from our friends at Salt Publishing by some of the top names in British comedy, was it going to stand up (see what we did there) or fall flat on its face like so many other attempts to cross genre boundaries? Not that I’d ever point a bony digit at you, Lesbian Vampire Killers.
I needn’t have worried, each of the 16 stories within this slim volume are pretty good as you would expect when contributors include: Reece (League of Gentlemen and Psycoville) Shearsmith, Al (Pub Landlord) Murray, Charlie (Fast Show) Higson and Phil (Never Mind the Buzzcocks) Jupitus. I can imagine, were the Pan Books of Horror stories that I enjoyed so much as a kid still going today, that they would fit right in.
For me the stand out stories were: Sara (Mock the Week) Pascoe’s A Spider Remember, which will make you never want to see another arachnid ever; Mitch Benn’s tale of grisly revenge gone wrong The Patient; Stewart Lee’s rogue ‘ghost’ in A View From a Hill; Katy (Big Ass Show) Brand’s story of the discovery of a future diary and the reader’s attempt to outflank his destiny in For Roger, and city boy Richard Herring’s creepy rural adventure Woolboy, which we got a sort of sneak preview to parts of at Herring’s Edinburgh Fringe show Lord of the Dance Settee.
As I have said before humour and horror are not always the perfect bedfellows, but each of the contributors to Dead Funny clearly show great affection for the genre that comes through in the writing. Don’t expect all the stories to be a laugh a minute, some of them are pretty gruesome, though there are some tasty little gags to be found.
I give Dead Funny a 666/666.
Dead Funny is available in bookshops and from Salt Publishing’s online shop now price £8.99.
Review by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.