In this debut novel, a virus eradicates Americans’ senses of humor as they prepare to elect the next leader of the free world.
Comedian Elliot Greeley is known for his provocative stand-up routines, so when the crowd at an alternative comedy club in West Hollywood reacts to his set with indifference, it rattles him. He assumes that he’s losing his edge until government scientists report the discovery of a virus that “affects only the humor centers of the brain” and whose symptoms include complacency, denial, and the inability to understand sarcasm. Although most people believe that this strange new illness was invented by the CDC to occupy their time, its effects are no laughing matter for Elliot and his friends—who, one after another, start losing the ability to write and tell jokes. Set during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, this satirical tale explores the role of comedy in maintaining a healthy democracy. Regrettably, in the process of promoting humor as a means to cope with the absurdity of current events, Guffey (Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security, 2015, etc.) spills more ink on accidentally stoned Mormons, pedophilic Mexican hit men, and a terminally ill rock band than he does on the plague and its fallout. Elliot’s manic, rambling narration further muddies Guffey’s message.
A clever concept that gets lost in a sea of farcical subplots and self-indulgent prose.