15 Funny Quotes From Scottish Authors

As a lover of great comedy, it was a surprise to me to find the books shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker prize all explored grim themes including self-harm, child abuse and murder. In an article from The Guardian, Man Booker judge Professor Michael Wood is quoted as saying, ‘There is an impulse to think that sad things are more serious than comic things and hence more prize worthy, or you get rated more seriously as a novelist.’

web_images_logoIn honour of Book Week Scotland 2015, I had planned to compile a list of funny books by Scottish authors, yet found creating such a list to be somewhat of a challenge – because there isn’t a list of Scottish comedy/humour authors in existence, as far as I can see. A Google search of ‘funny Scottish authors’ brings depressingly few results as does a trawl of the abundance of lists under the title of, ‘Best Scottish Books of All Time.’ Because Scottish comedy novels are not prize-worthy?  Enter, ‘A Decent Ride’ by Irvine Welsh, winner of the Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2015.

As Prof Wood concludes, ‘writing comedy is hard.’ Therefore, it is only fair to give a shout out to great, hard-to-get-right, humorous Scottish prose in honour of Book Week Scotland. After all, the tag line is ‘happy reading!’

Here is my tribute to the unique and wonderful Scottish sense of humour and just a small, admittedly diverse section of our most brilliant writers. You will note not all of these are comedy authors, and there are some you’d never expect to see, but the quotes are so quintessentially Scottish, I thought them all worth a mention.

Quotes From Scottish Books

“Love makes the world go round? Not at all. Whisky makes it go round twice as fast.”

– Compton Mackenzie, Whisky Galore

“The smile told Rebus he was as welcome as haemorrhoids at a rodeo.”

– Ian Rankin, Mortal Causes.

“I have a head for business and a body for sin. Unfortunately, the sin appears to be gluttony.”

― Jenny Colgan, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café

“‘But what can I do to assuage my lustful thoughts?’ I asked.
‘Think of St Agatha, who lost her breasts for our Lord.’
I suddenly remembered a painting I had seen in Seville of a dark haired woman holding a tray of pears. That was what they were.”

 – James Runcie, The Discovery of Chocolate

“You stab him. Not much, just a wee bit to get him to fuck off.”

– Brian ‘Limmy’ Limond, from ‘Daft Wee Stories.’


“Not even a hand-stitched suit could hide a body gone ruinously to seed. I was tempted to offer some fashion advice, but I didn’t think he’d welcome the news that this year, bellies are being worn inside the trousers.”

– Val McDermid, Clean Break.

“’Marry me. A simple ceremony. Then you can move into my room. I’ve got an inflatable mattress and a stained towel you can fold up and use as a pillow. And Kev’s perfecting a patatas bravas where you boil the potatoes in Heinz tomato soup.’
‘Lovely offer as it is, Ben. Sorry. No.’
Ben turned to Professor MacDonald.
‘I’m going to need some compassionate leave.’”

 – Mhairi McFarlane, You Had Me at Hello.

“It was the day my grandmother exploded.”

– Iain Banks, The Crow Road (best opening line ever)

 “A hanging in a good quarrel is an easy death they say, though I could never hear of any that came back to say so.”

― Robert Louis Stevenson, The Black Arrow


“An hour later and a faint movement caught my eye. Mum was weakly flapping her hand, beckoning me to her. I had no idea how long she had been trying to attract my attention. As I bent over to catch her last words she whispered, ‘turn that bloody music off.’”

– Laura Marney, No Wonder I Take a Drink

“I never trust the airlines from those countries where the pilots believe in the afterlife. You are safer when they don’t.”

– Muriel Spark, The Driver’s Seat

“If my father had been killed in North Africa or Italy during the Second World War, I know that for the rest of my life I would have looked at the few photographs of him and mourned our lost relationship. Unfortunately, he survived and came home.”

Robert Douglas, Night song of the last tram: A Glasgow childhood

More humorous quotes from Scottish authors:

“The writer is a mysterious figure, wandering lonely as a cloud, fired by inspiration, or perhaps a cocktail or two.”

– Sara Sheridan


“I don’t want a tombstone. You could carve on it, ‘she never actually wanted a tombstone.”

– Ali Smith


“I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare.”

– Irvine Welsh on chancellor George Osborne borrowing quotes from his books to announce new austerity measures.

And finally, a bonus quote from JK Rowling, who wrote of Scotland:

“It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places in the world, the history is fascinating, the men are handsome and the whisky is delicious. But don’t eat the macaroni pies.”

Find out more about events from Book Week Scotland HERE


Heather Hill
Mum of five (not the band), I am an author and comedy writer based in Scotland, UK

2 Responses to “15 Funny Quotes From Scottish Authors

  • Thanks for the laughs!! Loved the article and comedy is just as masterful as drama or suspense or any other genre. As a matter of fact in many cases the skill required to get a laugh is much more difficult!! Great article!!