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The author of Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese (not reviewed) and quondam host of Comedy Central’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 offers some small, comic essays. The result is, happily, laughable.

In nearly 60 short pieces, Nelson covers the traditional bases required of funny authors and easily gains admission to the Professional Droll Writers' Union. He deals nicely with such facetious topics as the arts, outdoor life (with animals), indoor life (with relatives), recalled youth, food, human anatomy, coping with life, and general introspection. He has difficulties, like Great-Grandfather Leacock, in diverse everyday settings. He delivers a generic business speech that could easily precede Grandpa Benchley's immortal Treasurer's Report. And, like Cousin Dave Barry, he sees value in eponymous book titles. The good old subjects of pique include hotel stays and semi-amateur theatricals. Other, more modern, takes cover cell-phone shouters, big-box stores, and performance art (semi-amateur theatricals). Nelson reveals that he's for flesh-based food. He asserts, in another thoughtful think piece, that the heyday of the buttock is past. Especially neat is a thumbnail novel in the mode of Dickens, or someone very like Dickens, in which the final colloquy calls for a performance in the style of the late Stepin Fetchit or, perhaps, someone very like the late Lionel Atwill. And there's a fine little history of television that could only have been produced after some pretty shameful viewing and detailed study of many fanzines. Certainly, not all of Nelson's columns stand equally well, but the memoirs and prescriptions, the discourses and proscriptions are, on the whole, bright and easy. Take them a bit at a time and savor the once and (we pray) future world of comic writing.

From someplace called Minnesota comes a Nelson funnier than Ozzie, Ricky, Lord or Half. Nimble foolery packed in minipieces.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-093614-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperEntertainment
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2001