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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.


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!!!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Showalter is a comic genius. This is, cover to cover, the funniest book I've ever read!"
(Dear Mike, Haven't 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, 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

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)
actor Paul Rudd
"He can make anything funny."
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.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mr. Funny Pants

By Showalter, Michael

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2011 Showalter, Michael
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446542104

Taking Ecstasy and Peeing on Myself

No drug has a higher “potential to not work” quotient than ecstasy. The first time I did ecstasy nothing happened. After I took it, I waited around for a while for something to happen but I didn’t feel any different. The person who gave it to me told me that it would work better if I stood on my head, so I stood on my head in five-minute intervals for about three hours. All I got was a head rush. Eventually, I wanted it to work so badly that I just convinced myself I was high. I kept telling my friends, “Oh my God! This is the best feeling ever!” In reality, I think I just felt a little drowsy. The next day my friend’s drug dealer told him that he’d accidentally given us melatonin, an herbal sleep remedy. Upon reflection, I realized that I felt drowsy because I WAS drowsy.

The second time I did ecstasy I snorted it. Don’t ask. All I remember was that I played tennis that day and was “seeing the ball” very well. Also, I had a stuffy nose for two weeks.

The third time I tried ecstasy, something finally happened. I was with my girlfriend at the time and another couple. We touched stuff and told each other how beautiful we were for four hours.

At the end of the night my girlfriend and I tried to have sex but I couldn’t get an erection. I had “numb dick.” So we decided that I should masturbate. It became a collaborative effort. I was trying to masturbate and she was rooting me on. After an hour of futility I finally felt like I was going to have an orgasm. “Here it comes,” I said. She cheered. I came. It was the biggest orgasm I’d ever had. It was like a gallon of sperm was shooting out of me like a hose. It almost felt like I was peeing.

And I was.

I was peeing.

I was peeing all over myself.

As soon as I realized it I screamed, “Ah! I’m peeing all over myself!” My girlfriend ran into the kitchen and got a roll of paper towels. I clutched my penis and ran, knock-kneed, into the bathroom.

After that third time it was never the same. The last time I did ecstasy was on New Year’s Eve 1999. I got really drunk, sat in a folding chair all night long, and watched people dance. It wasn’t very fun. I knew that it was an artificial high. (See chart below.)


ALCOHOL (also: mouthwash, tiramisu, spaghetti with vodka sauce, etc.)     

  • Enjoyment of taste

  • Experiencing light buzz

  • Pleasant social interaction

  • Masking pain

  • Shirking life’s responsibilities

  • Living in a fantasy world (also: avoiding reality)

  • Half-eaten sandwich in bed next day

  • Piles of unopened mail

  • Having to apologize a lot about what happened last night

  • Drunk dialing


MARIJUANA (also: hash, not corned beef, Turkish)     

  • Medicinal pain reliever

  • Getting more “in touch” with yourself

  • Regulating sleep and food intake

  • Listening to songs that play for longer than twelve minutes

  • Having great ideas that you forget right after having them

  • Smelling like a barn

  • Getting “pothead” voice and sounding like Keanu Reeves when you talk

  • Dreadlocks but not a Rastafarian


HUFFING GLUE (also: snuffling glue; flumping glue; ruffling glue)     

  • Anything that glue would be used for (woodwork, arts and crafts, etc.)

  • Killing brain cells and acting stupid

  • Preventing yourself from having a future

  • Gluing your face together

  • Having glue all over you

  • “Glue Face”


COFFEE (also: Coca-Cola; Thai iced tea; Red Bull)     

  • Having “conversations” with people about “art” and “politics” and “prose”

  • Getting through life

  • Pooping

  • Getting cranky if you don’t have coffee

  • “Coffee Leg”


GOSSIP MAGAZINES (also: “watercooler conversations”)      N/A     

  • Reveling in other people’s misfortune

  • Looking at nekkid photos of famous people

  • Learning things will stop

  • “Gossip Face”

  • Not being a better person


PORNOGRAPHY (smut)     

  • Masturbation

  • Masturbation

  • Blindness


GAMBLING (engaging in high-risk/high-reward activities)     

  • Winning money

  • Having fun

  • Feeling good about yourself and your place in the world

  • Losing money

  • Losing watches and valuable possessions

  • Losing everything that you once held dear

  • Getting beaten up by a loan shark or bookie

  • Living in your car

  • Living under bridge after you pawn your car



Excerpted from Mr. Funny Pants by Showalter, Michael Copyright © 2011 by Showalter, Michael. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Michael Showalter is the star/creator of Michael & Michael Have Issues, The State, Wet Hot American Summer, The Baxter, Stella, Die Hard* and Die Hard 2: Die Harder**. He lives in Brooklyn with his lady and a bunch of cats.

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Mr. Funny Pants: A Memoir of False Starts 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
chetplease More than 1 year ago
This book is very funny. Hard to put down. Read it.
BookHounds More than 1 year ago
Pure Genius! I never knew you could be sarcastic and earnest at the same time. This is one of the funniest celebrity pseudo-memoirs I have read in a long time Anyone who hides their guilty pleasures in music on their iPod by labeling them really cool and hip indie bands, has my vote. I would do the same thing, but I have quite figured out how to do it. Michael Showalter pokes fun at the seriousness of writing by making fun of some of the things "serious" writers do like the preface only he takes his to the third level by having a post-preface. Oh and you can't forget the afterword, the after-afterword or the just-before-the-afterword. This is really a book that you should leave out on your coffee table since there are so many fun things to do like a fill in the blank romantic-comedy plot and the one minute mysteries. You can easily reread this several times. There are also little bits and pieces of the author's life and what junior high meant to him. There are some other important things, but I forgot them. I think they had something to do with drinking games, which is probably why I forgot. I received this book at no charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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Taylor_Murphy More than 1 year ago
Mr. Funny Pants, by Michael Showalter, describes a comedian's pursuit in trying to write his first book. However, he has trouble deciding what to write about or how to even write a book. He describes the initial steps in the writing process by going into detail about emails he wrote to his editor and the emails sent in return. He then describes how he hit writer's block after only just beginning to write the book. Showalter also includes random stories, factoids, and bibliographies throughout the story, which do not give any real significant meaning to the story. Then again, the story is not of any significant meaning at all but purely for the reader's enjoyment. Stories and chapters do not go in any particular order; Showalter just wrote what was on his mind. This, however, along with his writing style and personality, is what made the book one of my favorites and kept me entertained as I flipped through the pages. Michael starts off his book with an "About the Author" section, where he includes numerous facts about himself. For example, he tells his favorite author: F. Scott Fitzgerald, his actual favorite author: John Grisham, and his truthful actual favorite author: sports section. Then he jumps into another about the author; the Canadian version. However this time it is called "Aboot the Author," (not a spelling mistake) where his answers are geared to all things Canadian. After Showalter finishes with his Preface, Post-Preface, Post-Post-Preface, Pre-Post-Post-Preface, and End of Pre- and Post-Prefaces Preface, he jumps into his book. Even flipping through the pages to look at the chapter names kept me entertained. Some chapter titles included: "Excerpt from My Imaginary Interview with Charlie Rose," "The Joy of Streaking," "What My Thoughts Would Look Like If You Could See Them" Part one and two, "Drinking Games," and "Scrabble." These chapters along with the rest of the book will make it hard to put Showalter's writing down. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the comedy genre or needs an entertaining book that is hard to put down. I found myself laughing to myself as a read through the book, and, at times, rereading parts just to laugh again. Humor is a personal preference and is not for everyone but if the aforementioned chapter names and information made you want more, I highly suggest you drive to your nearest book store and buy a copy of Mr. Funny Pants.
ReadingRoom More than 1 year ago
This book is hilarious! It is a quick read and the author really shows us how his comedic mind processes information. Thoughts that seem to be random at first glance really have a point...there is a method to his madness! I laughed out loud as I read. This book was a real stress reliever! It was great entertainment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ummmmm nah I wil not pay any other dollar for watever this author as for me to buy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unreadable. Book is a waste of time