If you can imagine a smooth blend of the Book of Job, Dante's Inferno, Cervantes' Don Quixote and Butler's Erewhon, with the addition of a heavy dollop of extra absurdity, you are getting close to the nature of Candide. That absurdity is what makes the tale funny and without it, it would be an unpaletable concoction.
There is a good deal of social and political satire, something I often find to be a little weak; it's easy to point and laugh, harder to say what might be better. Voltaire, does however, offer some kind of alternative that he thinks is better than what he is lampooning, which is greatly to his credit.
I suppose I should explain how Candide relates to the other works mentioned above:
It's like Don Quixote in that the protagonist is frequently physically abused and this is used as broad humour and also in that the tale starts of as a rapid set of incidents and then slows down into some sort of coherent narrative. (This change being seen between parts one and two of Don Quixote.) It is like the Inferno in that certain historical figures and Voltaire's contemporary enemies keep turning up in order to be lambasted. It is like Erewhon in that there is a visit to Eldorado, a mythical country which is used to highlight supposed social absurdities back in Europe, Erewhon does the same thing, though perhaps not in the same way: contrast is used in Candide, whereas transposition of ideas into other realms is used in Erewhon. As for the Book of Job, well, the frequency and extremity of misfortunes heaped on Candide bears a resemblence to those heaped on Job by Satan.
Candide has a big advantage over all the works listed above: it's short. This edition has on facing pages the original French and an English translation and is still not much more than 150p. The fact that it can cover such a broad territory in such a condensed space is impressive. It's an easy read, too - so I think you should read it. It should make you think as well as laugh.