You're A Horrible Person, But I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice
Advice from funny people who should never give advice that are usually funny.
The Believer recently put out a book of "advice" entitled, You're A Horrible Person, But I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice. It is a compendium of opinions from some of entertainment's funniest perpetrators of gut-trauma, including:
Aziz Ansari, Judd Apatow, Fred Armisen, Maria Bamford, Todd Barry, Samantha Bee, Michael Ian Black, Andy Borowitz, Michael Cera, Vernon Chatman, Rob Corddry, David Cross, Larry Doyle, Paul Feig, Jim Gaffigan, Zach Galifianakis, Janeane Garofalo, Daniel Handler, Todd Hanson, Tim Heidecker, Ed Helms, Buck Henry, Mindy Kaling, John Lee, Thomas Lennon, Al Madrigal, Aasif Mandvi, Marc Maron, Adam McKay, Eugene Mirman, Morgan Murphy, Bob Odenkirk, John Oliver, Patton Oswalt, Martha Plimpton, Harold Ramis, Amy Sedaris, Michael Showalter, Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Tompkins, Sarah Vowell, David Wain, Eric Wareheim, Rainn Wilson, and Lizz Winstead.
My question is this- with such a talented group of people, why is this book so incredibly unfunny? It should have been a veritable holocaust of hilarity, but it is not even a Chernobyl of chuckles. What went wrong?
-Joshua Chaplinsky, concerned citizen
You're right. With such comedic pedigree, YAHPBILYTBBOA should have been money in the laugh bank. But in these harsh economic times, the dollar doesn't go as far as it used to. Looks like someone got greedy. A bailout might be in order.
One of the problems is, this is 244 pages of the same joke. You'd think with such a variety of talent, there'd be some diversity, but there's not. There are a few standouts, but for the most part all of the writers have the same voice. Left-field references and absurdist non-sequitors abound. It's like if Anne Landers raped Best Week Ever. I can see this working in a live environment, where individual delivery and performance would shine through, but in book form these jokes fall as flat as the page they are written on.
It also doesn't help that you can't tell if the questions themselves are real or fabricated. They run the gamut from the mundane to the ludicrous to the ludicrously mundane. Some seem genuine, while others function solely as setups. Then there are those vying to steal the spotlight from the answers themselves. A few manage to succeed.
It's a shame, really. YAHPBILYTBBOA could have been a great bathroom book. The best, even. Instead, it will be fighting with the latest Eddie Bauer catalog for a place on your shit-rag rack. It's up to you whether you want to wipe your ass with it or read it.
-Joshua Chaplinsky, resident expert, ChuckPalahniuk.net