Michael Showalter—one of the comedians behind the TV shows The State, Stella and Michael & Michael Have Issues, not to mention the cult film Wet Hot American Summer—didn't want to talk to us. I guess our review of his newly released Mr. Funny Pants didn't go over well. All we did was call it "review-resistant humor—probably just for the fans."
And you know what?
I'm a fan.
But he still didn't talk to us.
Having read the book, though, I understand his standoffishness:
"Consider, if you will, 'Shy Michael Showalter,' " he writes. "He belongs to no fraternity, has few friends, and is a relatively obscure sketch comedian and cat lover… He is hardly the life of the party and may even suffer from extreme social awkwardness or Asperger's Syndrome. He wears the same sweater every day and he smells like a combination of coffee, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pine needles."
Even Showalter's absurdist innovation of using not just a preface but a "post-preface," a "post-post-preface," a "pre-post-post-preface" and an "end of pre- and post-prefaces preface" in Mr. Funny Pants hints at neurosis. He tells readers that he takes a generic form of Zoloft—"I am proud to say I take a very low daily dose of it," he writes, before adding, "That said, sometimes I think that I should take a higher dose because if I don't, then I sometimes get stuck in a spiral of obsession/compulsion which leads me to do unnecessary and foolish things."
In one part of the book, Showalter's curiosity as to whether burritos existed during the 1700s leads him down one such OCD spiral. He ends up googling not one, not two, but three Earls of Sandwich and a woman named Lady Ann Boyle before arriving at the Earl of Cork. "FUCK!" he writes, "Gotta look up Earl of Cork now. Okay, just looked up Earl of Cork. He was Irish and accused of treason at some point. Shit. I've completely lost my train of thought."
Another explanation of Showalter’s reticence comes through in his love of cats:
"People don't like cats because they're aloof. I agree that they're aloof, but this is precisely why I like them. It's why I like rich people. Rich people are aloof and don't engage you in small talk. Neither do cats. This is partly because cats don't have language, but also because cats aren't like that. They are more into a substantive debate or no debate at all."
In the end, Showalter even gives a glimpse at how his interview with us might have gone when he presents an imagined appearance on Charlie Rose. Tension mounts until Showalter removes his microphone in a huff: "IT'S OVER, CHARLIE! Don't you get it? It's OVER! It's over and you blew the interview by asking me so many questions!" Then he punches Rose in the ribs.
Don't worry, Michael. We won’t ask you any questions. Mr. Funny Pants has already told us everything.
[Ed note: All quotes from preview galley may differ slightly from finished book.]