- You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News
- Publisher: Plume
- Year: 2010
- Pages: 320
In my review of John Dies at the End, by Cracked’s pseudonymous senior editor David Wong, talked briefly about how the resurrected humor magazine’s new online format works surprisingly well. I find it consistently funnier than, say, The Onion, whose satire is more biting but which I find terribly formulaic.
The relative success of the new website and its list-based articles eventually spurred the editors to do what most successful humor websites eventually do: take their existing content, add a couple of new pieces, and attempt to sell it to fans that have already read the material online. See Stuff White People Like and Maddox’s The Alphabet of Manliness for just two examples.
- John Dies at the End
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
- Year: 2010
- Pages: 480
As a young boy, my brother tended to get Cracked magazine rather than Mad magazine; I think it was probably cheaper for essentially the same content (or so it seemed to a young boy). In any case, he (and therefore I) grew up with Cracked. By the time the magazine itself went under, of course, I had stopped paying attention, but at some point in the last few years, I began regularly checking the new Cracked.com, which I find is much funnier than it likely should be.
At the helm of this new digital enterprise (sans Sylvester P. Smythe) is senior editor David Wong, a pseudonym for Jason Pargin. It was really only via this association that I learned about John Dies at the End, Wong/Pargin’s satirical horror novel, recently rescued from an indie publisher by St. Martin’s Griffin. Given my positive associations with the new Cracked, giving John Dies at the End a shot was a no-brainer. Also, it’s being adapted into a movie with Paul Giamatti.
- Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
- Publisher: Scribner
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 208
Though I don’t listen to altogether too many comedy albums, I’m a fan of Patton Oswalt, who I think is one of the smarter mainstream comics working today. To the best of my knowledge, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is his first serious attempt at a published book, and while it’s short and somewhat inconsistent, I think it’s shows a great potential for grander works.
- Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
- Year: 2010
- Pages: 288
I can remember being quite young and looking for books by Dave Barry in my local library. Invariably, I happened upon large collections by such venerated humorists as Lewis Grizzard and P.J. O’Rourke, who even in the early 90s had a large œuvre. I never got into O’Rourke at the time, because I was concerned more with Barry’s slapstick and sometime scatological approach to humor, as opposed to O’Rourke’s which was more straightforward political satire.
When I learned sometime about a decade ago that Barry was a Libertarian, I wasn’t even quite sure what it meant (I was probably about 14), other than he apparently disliked government. This is no surprise, given that a large portion of his work was dedicated to criticizing people in authority, especially the government, which was a fair target for lampooning not just by Libertarian humorists, but just about anybody. Let’s face it: the government is a big dumb ox of a target, and even dyed-in-the-wool liberals have little trouble lambasting it for wasteful spending and making jokes about Congress being the opposite of Progress.
- Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
- Year: 2010
- Pages: 256
Think back to the heady days of 2004-2005, when the entire country was embroiled in (pre- and post-) election politics, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had suddenly become an important political and cultural entity, due in no small part to Stewart’s very public flogging of Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on Crossfire. Stewart and Colbert’s recent Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear drew just under a quarter-million attendees, so one can hardly say that the entity has diminished in the intervening years, but there was something particularly novel about Jon Stewart et al. at that point that made their leap from TV to print easy and popular. America (The Book) was a wild success, and so it should have been: it was a well-executed parody of a children’s American history textbook, pointedly satirical and wickedly funny.
Five years later, the same crew (more or less) gives us Earth (The Book), evidently a scaled-up version of the same concept, written as a communique to an alien race that stumbles onto our planet long after we’ve obliterated ourselves.