Saturday, June 16, 2012

Humor & Comedy

As I mentioned before, I took a Humor Writing class last month.  Even before I took the class, I had resolved to read more humorous books.  Who couldn't use more laughs in their life?  I sure could.

Over the last year, I've read The New New Rules by Bill Maher, Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell, and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.  I've got Rachel Dratch's new book on hold at the library.

I've enjoyed these books, but only Bill Maher's made me literally laugh out loud.  Which is kind of disappointing.  I am more likely to smirk and think, "Ha," or "That's cute," than to actually find something funny or laugh at it.

In fact, despite being an avid reader, I have had very few laugh-out-loud moments with books that I can remember.  The only one that comes to mind from a few years ago was one particular excerpt from The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost.  But I happily laugh out loud at TV or movies, especially "The Office," which is why I read Mindy Kaling's book in the first place.

Mindy plays a very forgettable, kind of annoying character on "The Office" - Kelly Kapoor.  It is only recently that I realized that she played a larger role behind the scenes of the show.  Reading this book, it becomes apparent that not only has she directed some of the episodes, but she is the writer responsible for some of the funniest ones!  ("The Dundies" and "George Foreman Grill" come to mind.)  It may come as no surprise that I found the best part of the book to be a glimpse behind the scenes of "The Office."  For example:

It has been said many times, but it is true: Steve Carell is a very nice guy. His niceness manifests itself mostly in the fact that he never complains. You could screw up a handful of takes outside in 104-degree smog-choked Panorama City heat, and Steve Carell’s final words before collapsing of heat stroke would be a friendly and hopeful “Hey, you think you have that shot yet?” 

I would recommend this book if you are a huge fan of "The Office" or if you enjoy humor about the traditional female experience.  There are some good parts about dating, dieting and other things we all go through, but I found I couldn't relate to the love of shopping or fashion.  If you look a bit deeper, you can be inspired by Mindy's journey, considering how difficult it can be for women to be successful in comedy these days.  (Tina Fey's book highlights some hard-core sexism, e.g. "No one wants to see a skit with two women in it.")  To writers, she has attained the unattainable, and she did it purely by talent and not letting disappointment get her down. It may not be the funniest thing I've ever read, but it is a feel-good book nonetheless.


Me said...

Great post! I'm reading Please God Let it Be Herpes right now and it's pretty amazing.

bohemiologist said...

I've heard that to be emotionally healthy one should belly laugh at least 30 times a day. I'm woefully behind in that, which explains the Xanax prescription in my medicine cabinet.

But, I'm working on it! I recently watched two Julia Sweeney monologue films and made up for a few days right there (although, they also made me cry, so I'm wondering if that makes it a wash).

I also hope to get Jenny Lawson's new book soon, 'cause her blog (The Bloggess) makes me laugh out loud. It's called "Let's Pretend This Never Happened."

Also, I dig Bill Maher, so I'm adding "The New New Rules" to my tbr list. :)

April said...

Thanks for the comments, guys! Keep the humor recommendations coming, I love em ;)