Canon Thursday: Funniest Moment in Sherlock Holmes

I’ve recently been invited to contribute to a Sherlock Holmes humor anthology, and that got me thinking about the one major thing that stood out to me when I re-read the Sherlock Holmes canon in 2010: the humor.

My first exposure to Holmes was before the age of 10, and during childhood, I was able to absorb the suspense and excitement, but the prevalent dry humor eluded me. As an adult re-reading the stories, I was delighted to find a great deal to giggle over in stories that were very familiar but at the same time not familiar at all because I was looking at them with mature eyes.

Many of Watson’s observations in the stories strike me as humorous, but one of my favorite lighter moments occurs in “The Adventure of the Yellow Face,” when Holmes drily utters, “Watson, if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.”

Canon Thursday wants to know: What strikes you as funny in the Sherlock Holmes stories? Do you have a silly idea for a Sherlock Holmes humor piece that you wouldn’t mind me using? Let me know in the comments.

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9 thoughts on “Canon Thursday: Funniest Moment in Sherlock Holmes

  1. Dr. Mortimer, the paleontologist by hobby, who told Holmes that, due to his “advanced cranial development”, he “coveted” his skull ! From HOUN.

  2. Also, from REDH, the business involving the company who “manufactured artificial kneecaps”. Is there such a thing?

  3. I always like Holmes’ smart-alecky remarks, such as, in Devil’s Foot when (I forget his name) says to Holmes that he didn’t see anyone following him, Holmes replies “That is what you should expect to see when I follow you.” My all-time favorite is probably Holmes’ reply when Mr. Gibson (in Thor Bridge) claims that “No man has ever crossed me and was the better for it.” Holmes simply blows him off by saying “So many have said so, and yet here I am.”

    Congrats on being asked to contribute a story! I am not all that funny, but perhaps something that happened when Holmes and Watson first began sharing rooms? It seems to me that that time period would have been full of misunderstandings. Maybe Watson misunderstands the parade of women through their rooms? Or why Holmes finally took charge of Watson’s cheque book? The first time Holmes and Lestrade worked together?

    Oh, and as to artificial kneecaps, Vincent Wright, who writes the blog “Historical Sherlock,” has that one covered….historicalsherlock.blogspot.com/2012/04/artificial-knee-caps.html

    Back to the laundry! Have fun writing!!

  4. As a boy, I laughed aloud when I read this exchange between Inspector Forrester and Dr. Watson in “The Reigate Squires”:

    “The Inspector shrugged his shoulders. ‘I don’t quite know, sir. Between ourselves, I think Mr. Holmes has not quite got over his illness yet. He’s been behaving very queerly, and he is very much excited.’

    “‘I don’t think you need alarm yourself,” said I. “I have usually found that there was method in his madness.’

    “‘Some folks might say there was madness in his method,’ muttered the Inspector.”

  5. For me, it has to be the line in The Blue Carbuncle about the slippers. Holmes gets the culprit back to 221b but before he starts the interogation he says – ‘I will just put on my slippers before we settle this little matter of yours.’ Sounds like something my nan would say! I read it and had tears streaming down my face. Maybe it’s just my odd sense of humour but I just think that line is comedy gold!

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