Eighteen new flights of fancy from preternaturally gifted humorist Rich (Spoiled Brats, 2014, etc.).
Art, ambition, and Hollywood stardust are at the heart of this new comic collection from Rich, just coming off producing three seasons of sitcom Man Seeking Woman, itself based on his own The Last Girlfriend on Earth (2013). Professional jealousy gets a twist in “The Baby,” in which a novelist finds himself competing with his unborn child for literary recognition. The funniest story to read aloud follows in “Riding Solo: The Oatsy Story,” in which Paul Revere’s unsung horse laments his historical obscurity. Making art is literally addictive in “Relapse,” in which a one-hit wonder tries to escape the ugly realities of adulthood. Shades of Christopher Moore’s historical slapstick fall over two stories: “Hands,” about a Christian monk struggling with his own ethical deficits, and “The Great Jester,” a Python-esque medieval farce. There are a few frivolities that might have been better left on the cutting-room floor, including the one-joke “Physician’s Lounge, April 1st,” the simplistic “Tom Hanks Stories,” and the self-flagellating satire “The Book of Simon.” It’s not that Rich can’t be acidic: See “Adolf Hitler: The GQ Profile,” the mordantly funny “Upward Mobility,” or the sheer irony of “Artist’s Revenge.” But he also has a sweet spot between mockery and respect for old Hollywood that most notably appears in “New Client,” in which an old-time talent agent strikes a deal with his last client, and the tartly charming “Stage 13,” about a starlet who finally makes good.
Lovingly crafted comedies from a writer beginning to match wit with wisdom.