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“John Warner's The Funny Man is a funny novel about a funny man who sticks his whole hand in his mouth in a funny way. But it's much more than that—a wise, rueful, surprisingly tender book about what happens when we get what we want, and then what happens when we keep on wanting things. A very American novel, in other words, a novel that reminds me of Walker Percy's and Saul Bellow's very American novels. I can think of no higher praise for a novel, and The Funny Man deserves it.”—Brock Clarke, author of Exley and An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
"I'm not at all surprised that John Warner would invent the perfect Everyman for our age: a comic whose meteoric rise to fame is based on a stupid gimmick. Half first-person tell-all, half third-person takedown—a brilliant structure—The Funny Man is a whip-smart satire of celebrity culture. It is hysterical, and sad, and ultimately indicts us all. An excellent novel."—Jessica Francis Kane, author of The Report
“What people will do for fame never looked so bad, or conceivable. John Warner tips celebrity culture a few degrees toward the absurd, and out falls a human, dying from a joke. The Funny Man shows us what blooms in the shadows of the paparazzi’s flashbulbs—nothing pretty, but true and damn amusing.”—Rosecrans Baldwin, author of You Lost Me There
“An illuminating satire…a sharply focused lampoon of the escalating absurdity of the newest virulent strains of celebrity culture—as the story’s funny man straddles a deeply conflicted persona reminding us that comedy is after all, no joke.”—The Daily Beast
“Darkly funny.... [Warner] peppers his book with clever asides that themselves could serve as stand-up bits.... But these serve more as comic relief to the book’s provocative theme of being careful what you wish for.... The last third of the book is ambiguous, but serves as a meditation on therapy, the afterlife, and connecting with a kindred spirit. It works because like the rest of the novel, it’s the biting social commentary that Warner is going for, not wrapping things up in a bow.”—Splitsider
"America's favorite comedian is on trial for manslaughter, and 'the funny man''s lawyer, Barry, has a unique defense: not guilty by way of celebrity.... [An] equally sickening and humorous portrait of the celebrity as a delusional man."—Publisher's Weekly
“In his first novel, Warner skewers the culture of celebrity.... Not guilty by reason of celebrity (hey, it worked for Rob Lowe and Charlie Sheen). The funny man’s fall is precipitous, yet in the midst of it, he manages to find love again with (who else?) another celebrity ... a clever premise.”—Booklist
“The Funny Man joins a short list of intelligent, dark comedies about self-loathing main characters whose success is built on the poor taste and/or low IQ of the American public. In so doing, Mr. Warner follows the path of authors like Chris Buckley and Randall Silvis, but he is darker than the former and funnier than the latter. Regardless of the company he keeps, The Funny Man puts John Warner among the most perceptive and edgy chroniclers of an increasingly coarse American culture.”—New York Journal of Books
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted August 27, 2012
Posted August 27, 2011
John Warner's debut novel THE FUNNY MAN is an interesting tale about an average comic in an average city who hits the big time with a gimmick that suddenly the public can't live without. Unfortunately, he can't really live WITH it, and as his fame skyrockets his life completely unravels. He is poor and in love and grounded before fame, and rich and alone and possibly insane after.
If this were just another "fall from grace" story it would be totally unremarkable. However, the author employs two completely different styles in the story, using both third person and first person to tell the story. The third person portions are more narrative, describing what is actually happening. The first person parts are describing what the hero THINKS is happening, which as the story moves on separates more and more from reality. But the genius in the story telling is that the two stories dovetail in a way that the reader can never be sure that what's happening in the "funny man's" head (we never learn his name) ISN'T reality. It's reality to him, to be sure, and Warner's style is convincing enough that the reader is wondering, "Am I reading tragedy, fantasy, comedy, or something in between?"
I will admit that the book caught my eye because I was looking for something light and funny. This didn't really fit that bill, but there were definitely some (darkly) funny moments. It was definitely entertaining, just not humorous.
Plenty of profanity, so for those who don't like their curse words spelled out, this may not be for you.