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A Load of Hooey

A Load of Hooey

by Bob Odenkirk

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Bob Odenkirk is a legend in the comedy-writing world, winning Emmys and acclaim for his work on Saturday Night Live, Mr. Show with Bob and David, and many other seminal TV shows. This book, his first, is a spleen-bruisingly funny omnibus that ranges from absurdist monologues (“Martin Luther King, Jr’s Worst Speech Ever”) to intentionally


Bob Odenkirk is a legend in the comedy-writing world, winning Emmys and acclaim for his work on Saturday Night Live, Mr. Show with Bob and David, and many other seminal TV shows. This book, his first, is a spleen-bruisingly funny omnibus that ranges from absurdist monologues (“Martin Luther King, Jr’s Worst Speech Ever”) to intentionally bad theater (“Hitler Dinner Party: A Play”); from avant-garde fiction (“Obituary for the Creator of Madlibs”) to free-verse poetry that's funnier and more powerful than the work of Calvin Trillin, Jewel, and Robert Louis Stevenson combined.

Odenkirk's debut resembles nothing so much as a hilarious new sketch comedy show that’s exclusively available as a streaming video for your mind. As Odenkirk himself writes in “The Second Coming of Jesus and Lazarus,” it is a book “to be read aloud to yourself in the voice of Bob Newhart.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The first humor collection from comedian Odenkirk is—to quote Forrest Gump— like a box of chocolates. That is to say, its 34 offerings are small, diverse, and consistently delicious. Whether skewering pretensions or making darker, sometimes political, points, the narrative has the deadpan earnestness of Comedy Central’s fake news shows, and the details are blissfully on point. Some standouts include “Martin Luther King’s Worst Speech Ever,” “Baseball Players’ Poems About Sportswriters and Sportswriting,” and “So You Want To Get a Tattoo!” More mordant in their humor are “The Phil Spector I Know,” which takes the American cult of celebrity to a disturbing extreme, and “I Misspoke,” in which a political candidate with heinous views slickly “corrects” the public record. Sprinkled throughout the book, like palate cleansers, are 15 fabricated “Famous Quotations”: for example,“Know thyself. Come on. Hurry up. We’re waiting. Oh, forget it.—Socrates.” Readers who know Odenkirk from his role as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad may not remember his HBO sketch comedy series, The Mr. Show with Bob and David, which was similarly topical and mischievous. His work here is in the same vein—whip-smart and laugh-out-loud funny. Agent: Erin Malone, WME Entertainment. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"Bob Odenkirk is wrong. He’s wrong about Jesus hosting a comedy show and he’s wrong that his book is just, 'a load of hooey.' It’s a load of funny and thoughtful is what it is. And why would one title a book that way? It gives the wrong impression to folks. It’s a terrible marketing plan. It should be called, 'The Best Book in the World This Year', or, 'This is Totally Worth It!' or something along those lines. It’s certainly not a load of hooey. Oh! And I looked up the definition of “hooey” as per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It does NOT say that! He’s wrong about that too!!!! Wrong, wrong, wrong!" —David Cross

“Whip-smart and laugh-out-loud funny.” —Publishers Weekly

“The king of alt comedy…expands his reign with this absurd collection of tirades, rhyming verse, and tips on how to avoid getting an embarrassing tattoo.” —O, Oprah Magazine

“Odenkirk…shows his cerebral side in his first collection of humor writing.” —Maxim

"Delightfully absurd" —The Weekly Alibi

"A deft blend of silliness and ridicule, mirth and rage: salt augmenting sweetness." —Barnes & Noble Review

"Delivered with a combination of thoughtfulness and absurdity that Odenkirk has honed over the course of his career." —A.V. Club

“'A Load of Hooey' is a load of laughs." —New York Post

"A toolkit for anyone with a stake in making a 'creative wage' out of our digital culture... [Cory Doctorow's] arguments are entertainingly presented, forcefully made, and easy to follow." —Quill & Quire

"Very funny and immensely silly." —Portland Mercury

"A Load of Hooey finds the comedy legend doing what he does best: lampooning pretension." —Chicago Reader

"Spoiler alert — it’s FUNNY!" —Local IQ

"Is it fair that [Odenkirk] is not only a funny, successful actor but also a funny, successful writer? Absolutely not, but fairness has even less to do with comedy than love and war." —The New York Times Book Review

Kirkus Reviews
A humor collection from the postmodern jack of many trades. The creator and star of the cult TV favorite Mr. Show, Odenkirk (co-author: Hollywood Said No!, 2013) reached a larger audience with his dramatic role in Breaking Bad and has written for both Saturday Night Live and the New Yorker. There is plenty here that the latter would never print, particularly in its more fastidious days—e.g., the opening "One Should Never Read a Book on the Toilet," addressed to students at a young women's finishing school and advising that there "are appropriate postures for both reading and for defecating, and neither is compatible with the other." Addressing a particular public is one of the collection's recurring motifs, encompassing the obligatory commencement speech, the attempts by various politicians to come clean with particularly embarrassing revelations ("The media will, no doubt, suggest that there is something weird about me wearing a blindfold while having sex with two people I'd met a few hours before, but I assure you I was on Ecstasy and would have tried almost anything") and, most audaciously, "Martin Luther King Jr.'s Worst Speech Ever." Odenkirk takes the concept of sacred cows to greater extremes as the butt of his humor, returning repeatedly to Jesus (or "a fairy tale about someone named ‘Jeebus' "). And there are some fairly funny pieces on fairly easy targets, including consumer reviews for the likes of Amazon ("This album aspires to claptrap. No wonder they refused to put their faces on it!! Now I know why it has no title and is called ‘The White Album'—because you can't put the word ‘SHIT' on the cover of a record album") and a BFF's character testimonial for Phil Spector ("he has enriched my world with music, good conversation, and gunshots").Though this represents the first volume in the Odenkirk Memorial Library, it isn't likely that the author will abandon his day job(s) for a life of letters.
Library Journal
Odenkirk (Saturday Night Live; Mr. Show with Bob and David) has been a successful television comedy writer for many years, but ironically it's his work as an actor—specifically his recent success playing shady lawyer Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad—that has raised the author's profile enough to make this collection marketable. This is Odenkirk's first book and he relishes making as many bibliographic gags as he can, such as placing the title in the context of the phony "Odenkirk Memorial Library" imprint and including an ironic dust-jacket photo. For readers who know his work as a performer, it is impossible to read this grab bag of scripted skits, reflective monologs, poems, and comic loose ends without hearing his wry voice throughout. Odenkirk's subject is inevitably some aspect of American culture: our motivations, our objects of reverence, our news-cycle jargon, and our obsession with public image, especially politics and celebrity. Some of the pieces are wonderfully surreal while others are very straightforward; many are whimsical and silly; none is longer than a few pages and the entire book can be read in a sitting or two. Ultimately, the volume fails as often as it succeeds in being funny but its shortcomings are redeemed by Odenkirk's willingness to experiment with the form, subject, and tone of his pieces. VERDICT Those offended by dirty words and an irreverent treatment of Judeo-Christian religions should take a pass; those who read this and want more should seek out Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes, which is a likely antecedent.—Chris Wieman, Univ. of the Sciences Libs., Philadelphia

Product Details

McSweeney's Publishing
Publication date:
Odenkirk Memorial Library Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Bob Odenkirk has won two Emmy Awards for comedy writing, for Saturday Night Live and The Ben Stiller Show. He co-created and starred in Mr. Show with Bob and David, which ran on HBO and has been called “the American Monty Python,” which is perhaps a bit of an overstatement in his opinion. Bob has written short comic pieces for the New Yorker and had a regular page in Vice magazine - and there's not much overlap between those two publications, is there?

Bob has directed three feature films: Melvin Goes To Dinner, Let’s Go To Prison, and The Brothers Solomon, all of which underwhelmed, admittedly, but Melvin is worth watching, for sure.

Bob has had many other memorable roles on TV, most notably The Larry Sanders Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother (CBS), and The Office (NBC). He is most proud of his appearances in James Ponsoldt's The Spectacular Now and Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.

He is currently Executive Producing, writing, and co-starring in The Birthday Boys, a sketch comedy show for IFC to premiere in October, 2013.

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