MR. FUNNY PANTS by Michael Showalter


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An occasionally amusing book about how to write a book when you really have nothing to say.

Many comedians seem to land book deals whether they have a book in them or not. As the writer/star of MTV’s The State and the cult film Wet Hot American Summer, Showalter, who teaches screenwriting at the NYU Graduate Film School, understands that many of those books have no point to them. He makes such pointlessness the point of this book, which describes the processes of writing it in painstaking, even excruciating detail. For Example: “ ‘Making Sense’: Should this book make sense? Should it be cohesive? Should it have a beginning, middle, and end? Should I connect dots? Should I construct a narrative that is easy and enjoyable for my reader to follow? Or should it be an incoherent mess? I’m still not sure. Gut is telling me that incoherent mess might be my best shot at finishing it.” Among the elements in the inevitably incoherent mess are book proposals, diagrams, advice for writing and selling screenplays, dating tips, Scrabble strategy and jokes. Some of the jokes are funny; with more of them, what’s funny is that the author pretends to think they’re funny or pretends to think the reader will think they’re funny. To wit: “A FOR SALE BY OWNER sign is way better than a FOR SALE BY THIEF sign.” (Funny.) “Instead of a string quartet what if there was a string bean quartet? How crazy would that be?” (Funny?) In the afterword, he writes, “I fell WAY SHORT of my goal to write a profound and meaningful memoir. On that level I FAILED COMPLETELY. I did however manage to use the word penis over four hundred times.” One of them: “There is nothing worse or more terrifying than an intellectually curious penis.” (Funny?)

Review-resistant humor—probably just for the fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-446-54210-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2010


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