Mr. Funny Pants: A Memoir of False Starts

Mr. Funny Pants: A Memoir of False Starts

3.7 10
by Michael Showalter
     
 

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I was at my wit's end. I'd had enough of this job, this life, and my relationship had broken up. Should I eat chocolate, or go to India, or fall in love? Then I had a revelation: Why not do all three, in that order? And so it was that I embarked on a journey that was segmented into three parts and was then made into a major motion picture.

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Overview

I was at my wit's end. I'd had enough of this job, this life, and my relationship had broken up. Should I eat chocolate, or go to India, or fall in love? Then I had a revelation: Why not do all three, in that order? And so it was that I embarked on a journey that was segmented into three parts and was then made into a major motion picture. Later, I woke up on an airplane with a hole in my face and a really bad hangover. I was ushered brusquely off the plane by my parents who took me to a rehab where I tested positive for coke, classic coke, special k (the drug), Special K (the cereal), mushrooms, pepperoni, and Restless Leg Syndrome. It was there that I first began painting with my feet.

But rewind...the year was 1914. I was just a young German soldier serving in the trenches while simultaneously trying to destroy an evil ring with some help from an elf, a troll, and a giant sorcerer, all while cooking every recipe out of a Julia Child cookbook. What I'm trying to say is that there was a secret code hidden in a painting and I was looking for it with this girl who had a tattoo of a dragon! Let me clarify, it was the 1930s and a bunch of us were migrating out of Oklahoma, and I was this teenage wizard/CIA operative, okay? And, um then I floated off into the meta-verse as a ball of invisible energy that had no outer edge...

Ugh, okay. None of this is true. I'm just kind of a normal guy from New Jersey who moved to New York, got into comedy, wrote this book about trying to write this book, and then moved to Alaska, became the mayor of a small town, spent $30,000 on underwear, and now I'm going to rule the world!!!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brooklyn-based comedian-screenwriter Showalter (The Baxter) offers a witty "comic memoir," in which he has chosen to deconstruct the concept of books with lengthy satires on the front matter and closing pages usually found in books. After "About the Author" and "Aboot the Author (For Canadian Edition)," he follows with "About Bea Arthur." Then he finally gets going with the "Acknowledgments" ("I acknowledge that I am writing a book") and "Preface": "Being that I haven't started to write this book yet, I think it's irresponsible of me to write the preface first." Spewing forth short essays illustrated with gags, doodles, diagrams, and charts, Showalter draws the reader in with strange questions ("Would it be weird if cats were as small as mice?") and self-deprecating spoofing. Much of his humor pivots around convoluted paradoxes, quirky didactic tactics, literal truths, and stating the obvious, such as his "Holiday Recipes": "Gravy. Go to your local supermarket and ask the guy where the canned gravy is." Showalter can be funny, but at times his puns are simply predictable. (Feb. 24)
From the Publisher
"Showalter is a comic genius. This is, cover to cover, the funniest book I've ever read!"
(Dear Mike, Haven't had time to check it out yet. Do you want to just write a quote and put my name on it? Best, Ben) --Ben Stiller

"Here's the deal: I think Michael Showalter is a genius. And I don't use that term lightly. This book is brave, merciless, and soulful and I think that by that I actually mean stupid, smart and very funny (I mostly just wanted to use the word "merciless" in a sentence.) If you see it on a friend's shelf do yourself a favor and just take it. Not the shelf. Just the book. Unless of course you need a shelf. Merciless!!!" —Paul Rudd

"I read Michael's book on a train. It was funny and engaging. I also once took a train with Michael. I wish that Michael, as a passenger sitting next to me, was as funny and engaging as his book was." —Janeane Garofalo

"Procrastination in written form. This book, like all great works, is honest, absurd and absolutely pointless." —Amy Poehler

"With MR. FUNNY PANTS, Showalter deconstructs books down to their core, then builds them back up into a swirling core-nado. Which is a tornado made out of book cores. It's not a real thing. This book is funny." —Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone of SNL & The Lonely Island

"Showalter, Michael has written a very clever book. And he has written about writing a book, cleverly. Showalter, Michael asked me to write a blurb. It was easy to do-here it is: 'I very much really really liked this Mr. Funny Pants-a book so enjoyable that blurbing about it is so very easy.'" —Zach Galifianakis

"MR. FUNNY PANTS is unlike any book I've ever read. It's this weird, hilarious, choose-your-own-adventure inside Michael Showalter's brain-which is, of course, brilliant. I was at first skeptical of the premise of deconstructing the process of writing a book, but 10 pages in, I was literally crying with laughter and by the time he got to analyzing his own high school poetry, I could no longer read the book in public without embarrassing myself."—Mike Birbiglia, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepwalk With Me

"Michael Showalter: amusing trousers, singular mind." —Sarah Vowell, New York Times bestselling author of The Wordy Shipmates

"With MR. FUNNY PANTS by Michael Showalter, the meta-enterprise of the [comedian memoir] genre achieves full wax-bouquet bloom." —James Wolcott, Vanity Fair

Kirkus Reviews

An occasionally amusing book about how to write a book when you really have nothing to say.

Many comedians seem to land book deals whether they have a book in them or not. As the writer/star of MTV's The State and the cult film Wet Hot American Summer, Showalter, who teaches screenwriting at the NYU Graduate Film School, understands that many of those books have no point to them. He makes such pointlessness the point of this book, which describes the processes of writing it in painstaking, even excruciating detail. For Example: " 'Making Sense': Should this book make sense? Should it be cohesive? Should it have a beginning, middle, and end? Should I connect dots? Should I construct a narrative that is easy and enjoyable for my reader to follow? Or should it be an incoherent mess? I'm still not sure. Gut is telling me that incoherent mess might be my best shot at finishing it." Among the elements in the inevitably incoherent mess are book proposals, diagrams, advice for writing and selling screenplays, dating tips, Scrabble strategy and jokes. Some of the jokes are funny; with more of them, what's funny is that the author pretends to think they're funny or pretends to think the reader will think they're funny. To wit: "A FOR SALE BY OWNER sign is way better than a FOR SALE BY THIEF sign." (Funny.) "Instead of a string quartet what if there was a stringbeanquartet? How crazy would that be?" (Funny?) In the afterword, he writes, "I fell WAY SHORT of my goal to write a profound and meaningful memoir. On that level I FAILED COMPLETELY. I did however manage to use the wordpenisover four hundred times." One of them: "There is nothing worse or more terrifying than an intellectually curious penis." (Funny?)

Review-resistant humor—probably just for the fans.

actor Paul Rudd
"He can make anything funny."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446542104
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
02/22/2011
Pages:
254
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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