Free-Range Chickens

Free-Range Chickens

3.7 7
by Simon Rich

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In his riotous debut collection, Ant Farm, Simon Rich found humor in some of life’s most desperate situations. Now this former editor of The Harvard Lampoon and current writer for Saturday Night Live has returned to mine more comedy from our hopelessly terrifying world.

In the nostalgic opening chapter, Rich recalls his fear of theSee more details below


In his riotous debut collection, Ant Farm, Simon Rich found humor in some of life’s most desperate situations. Now this former editor of The Harvard Lampoon and current writer for Saturday Night Live has returned to mine more comedy from our hopelessly terrifying world.

In the nostalgic opening chapter, Rich recalls his fear of the Tooth Fairy (“Is there a face fairy?”) and his initial reaction to the “Got-your-nose” game (“Please just kill me. Better to die than to live the rest of my life as a monster”). He goes on to present Count Dracula’s desperate profile (“I am normal human looking for human woman to come to castle. I am normal, regular human”). Later, he gets inside the heads of two firehouse Dalmatians who can’t understand their masters’ compulsion to drive off to horrible fires every day. And in the final chapter, he tackles some of life’s biggest questions: Does God really have a plan for us? Yes, it turns out. Now if only He could remember what it was. . . .

Praise for Simon Rich’s Ant Farm

Ant Farm has an imaginative power that can trigger snort-fests. . . . Ferociously creative, this book is for readers craving both smart humor and belly laughs.”
People (four stars)

“Savagely funny.”
–The New York Times

“Hilarious. Open this book anywhere, begin reading, and you will laugh.”
–Jon Stewart

Ant Farm is what all humor books should be: full of brief, high-concept musings that you wish you’d thought of yourself.”
–Time Out New York

“A satirical salmagundi that bites back . . . Imaginative premises abound. . . . As unpredictable as YouTube, as in your face as MySpace.”
–Publishers Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rich, an author and Saturday Night Live writer, delivers a punch-and-jab gigglefest in his follow-up to the similarly chaotic Ant Farm. A slim book of short takes, Rich doesn't stray far from his formula-many of these pieces would work as mercifully brief (and funny) SNL skits-but it's a formula that delivers a laugh on every page. Split into thematic sections-Growing Up, Going to Work, Daily Life, Relationships, Animals and God-Rich's twisted observations are often dark, especially in the Growing Up portion; "terrifying childhood experiences" include "peek-a-boo," and the people hiding in 7-year-old Rich's closet (Freddy Krueger, Chucky, a murderer, his dead uncle, and his doctor) pine, "Man, I cannot wait to kill this kid." Rich offers this brand of humor in a wide range of flavors, going, for instance, directly from Pheidippides of 490 B.C. to an "All-you-can-eat buffet fantasy" in the Daily Life portion. Still, there isn't much here that's not laugh-out-loud funny, perfect for rainy-day/toilet-top browsing or one long, painful guffawathon.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
“A punch-and-jab gigglefest . . . that delivers a laugh on every page.”—Publishers Weekly

“Simon Rich is still the freshest, funniest new writer today.”—Chicago Sun-Times

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Terrifying childhood experiences

—Got your nose!
—Please just kill me. Better to die than to live the rest of my life as a monster.

—What’s that in your ear? Hey—it’s a quarter!
—Why is everybody laughing? I have a horrifying brain disease.

—Jesus Christ. You came out of nowhere.

When I lost my first tooth

me: You’re never going to believe this. I was hanging out with my friends and all of a sudden, a tooth fell out of my mouth. I think there’s something seriously wrong with me.

mom: Looks like the tooth fairy’s coming to town!

me: Who?

mom: The tooth fairy. She visits children in the middle of the night and takes their teeth.

me: Is she . . . a cannibal?

mom: No, she’s a fairy.

me: What else does she take? Does she take eyes?

mom: No, just teeth. And when she’s done, she leaves a surprise under your pillow.

me: Oh my God.

mom: I wonder what it’ll be this time?

me: Okay . . . let’s not panic here. There’s got to be a way to trap her or kill her. We just need to think.

mom: You don’t want to kill the tooth fairy.

me: Why not? Wait a minute . . . I see what’s going on. You’re in cahoots with her! God, it all makes sense now . . . how else would she know that I had lost a tooth in the first place?

mom: I think someone’s getting a little sleepy.

me: Wait until Dad finds out about this!

mom: He knows about the tooth fairy, sweetie.

me: Jesus Christ. How high up does this thing go?

mom: Let’s get you tucked in.

me: Listen . . . as long as we’re laying it all on the line, you might as well be straight with me. What other fairies are you working with? Is there a face fairy?

mom: There’s just a tooth fairy, sweetie. She comes every time you lose a tooth.

me: What do you mean “every time”? I’m going to lose more teeth?

mom: You’re going to lose all of them.

A conversation between the people who hid in my closet every night when I was seven

freddy krueger: When do you guys want to kill him?

murderer from the six o’clock news: How about right now?

dead uncle whose body i saw at an open casket funeral: I say we do it when he gets up to pee. You know, when he’s walking down the hallway, in the dark.

freddy krueger: What if he doesn’t get up?

murderer: He’ll get up. Look at how he’s squirming. It’s only a matter of time.

dead uncle: Man, I cannot wait to kill this kid.

murderer: Same here.

freddy krueger: I’ve wanted to kill him ever since he saw my movie.

dead uncle: Hey, do you guys remember that night-light Simon used to have?

murderer: Man, that thing scared the heck out of me.

freddy krueger: It’s a good thing his mom got rid of it. Now there’s nothing to stop us from killing him. (Everyone nods in agreement.)

dr. murphy: Hey, guys, sorry I’m late. I was busy scheduling an appointment with Simon, to give him shots. freddy krueger: No problem.

(Freddy Krueger and Dr. Murphy do their secret handshake.)

murderer: It’s getting kind of crowded in here. Chucky, can you move over?

chucky: I’m over as far as I can get.

murderer: I need more space than you’re giving me. I’m a lot bigger than you.

chucky: Are you calling me short?

dr. murphy: Hey, guys, relax, all right? We’re all here for the same reason: to kill and possibly eat Simon.

murderer: (Sighs.) You’re right. I’m sorry.

chucky: Yeah . . . me too. I kind of lost perspective.

dr. murphy: It’s okay. Just remember: we’re all in this together.

dead uncle: Hey, it looks like he’s getting up! Wait a minute . . . where’s he going?

chucky: I think he’s running into his mom’s room!

dead uncle: Maybe we should follow him?

chucky: Are you insane? I’m not facing that kid’s mother. That woman is terrifying!

murderer: Seriously, there is no way I’m going in there.

freddy krueger: (Sighs.) I guess tonight’s a bust. Let’s try tomorrow, okay? Same time, same place.

If adults were subjected to the same indignities as children


zoe: Dad, I’m throwing a party tonight, so you’ll have to stay in your room. Don’t worry, though: one of my friends brought over his father for you to play with. His name is Comptroller Brooks and he’s about your age, so I’m sure you’ll have lots in common. I’ll come check on you in a couple of hours. (Leaves.)

comptroller brooks: Hello.

mr. higgins: Hello.

comptroller brooks: So . . . um . . . do you follow city politics?

mr. higgins: Not really.

comptroller brooks: Oh.

(long pause)

(Zoe returns.)

zoe: I forgot to tell you: I told my friends you’d perform for them after dinner. I’ll come get you when it’s time. (Leaves.)

comptroller brooks: Oh God, what are we going to do?

mr. higgins: I know a dance . . . but it’s pretty humiliating.

comptroller brooks: Just teach it to me.

From the Hardcover edition.

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