June 12, 2015

Review: What I'd Say to the Martians by Jack Handey

If you're an ant, and you're walking across the top of a cup of pudding, you probably have no idea that the only thing between you and disaster is the strength of that pudding skin.

 photo 2092146_zpsr29rupis.jpgTitle: What I'd Say to the Martians and Other Veiled Threats
Author: Jack Handey
Genre: Humor Short Stories
Rating: A
Recommended For: fans of BJ Novak's One More Thing
Source: My library (well, my husband's)

One-sentence review: Jack Handey's particular brand of sarcastic, ironic and often exhausting humor is not for everyone but I can guarantee it's funny and you'll find yourself laughing through this book no matter your comedic style.

TBR It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

I've been in a sort of reading slump lately. Can you tell by my lack of reviews?! I am so disappointed in myself for missing my first review in close to 3 years! I'm surrounded by great books but I've been too busy or exhausted from being so busy to really enjoy them. I was complaining to my husband about it and he recommended one of his favorite authors, Jack Handey, but he teased that I probably wouldn't like his work. When a serious reader is told what they will not like, they almost always accept the challenge to prove said provoker wrong. So, of course, I accepted my husband's challenge. He bet me $20 I wouldn't really read it.

Jack Handey's What I'd Say to the Martians and Other Veiled Threats is his first compilation of short humorous stories that highlight the brand of comedy Handey is known for cultivating. Best known for his signature Deep Thoughts comedic one-liners which were featured on Saturday Night Live, Handey brings the same absurd humor to this collection (which actually includes his favorite Deep Thoughts). If you're not familiar with Handey's style of comedic style, perhaps breaking down some of my favorite and least-favorite selections from this book will give you an idea of what to expect.

My favorite story is called "My Third Best Friend" in which Handey explains that his wife is his third best friend. I'm sure this is my favorite because my husband recommended this book to me, so now I always ask him if I'm his third best friend. The story is ironic because obviously the narrator's wife is way more devoted to him than his first and second best friends; his first being his co-worker and his second being his college roommate he doesn't even talk to anymore. He tells an elaborate and hilarious story of how his wife saved his life (one of many times) and yet she still only ranks third. If you're trying to decide if Handey's humor is right for you, I recommend reading this story and gauging your reaction.

Similarly, "My Nature Documentary", is another of my favorites. The narrators in all of Handey's works have very little sense of self-awareness which is the basis for most of the humor. This story in particular is basically a narrative storyboard of a nature documentary in which a giraffe and a monkey are separated best friends. The story is cute, but made hilarious with the stage direction. For example, one of the notes about a scene where the giraffe must laugh states "(choke giraffe and dub laughing sounds)". In a scene where a monkey is supposed to be praying, the stage direction says, "(glue monkey's hands together to show praying)". It's this over-the-top detailed humor that really makes Handey's comedy particularly special.

There are also some chapters on Handey's infamous "Deep Thoughts" which are another area you might want to read to gauge whether you will appreciate his writing or not. I made the intro quote above one of his Deep Thoughts mentioned in this book so you can see if you think it's funny or not.

My least favorite stories all had the same thing in common: there isn't a real story line or succinct concept that was able to hold my attention. "Lowering My Standards" was probably my least favorite in the book, I was bored reading it. Similarly, Handey's To-Do List featured was incredibly excessive albeit funny. But that's probably why Handey is so funny: he's excessive and he goes all the way with his humor, carrying it for much longer than the average comic writer. In many cases this brand of humor is wonderful, but for me sometimes it became daunting.

Overall I really enjoyed this book of humorous stories and I won't shy away from Handey in the future. I'm anxious to read his novel, The Stench of Honolulu, to see if his humor will translate well in a longer format!

Oh, and Tyler? You owe me $20. ;)

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