Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Alphabet of Manliness, by Maddox

I learned about this book from a comment in an online discussion forum, wherein the commenter said it was the funniest book he'd ever read. Most of the time when I hear this, it's more a signal of the speaker's stupidity than the book's hilarity. After all, there are people in the world who love the show “Momma's Family.” (Which sucks.) This particular forum, however, is generally pretty funny, so when someone there said they thought a book was funny, I thought I might, too. The distinctive cover, with a man punching a gorilla, made the book easier to remember.

Later that week, I was at the library waiting for the woman whose kids I'm supposed to tutor even thought they never show up to call me and tell me that she wasn't going to show up. To pass the time, I decided to see if our library had a copy of this book, and was surprised that they did.

Maddox is the blog alias of the creator of “The Best Page in the Universe,” a caustic, funny website. For this book, he's written an entry on something “manly” for each letter of the alphabet. A is for ass-kicking, B is for boners, and so on.

Here's the thing about me and funny: I think I have a pretty high tolerance for humor, meaning it takes quite a bit to make me laugh. Things are often humorous, and might elicit a smirk, but rarely are they funny, and seldomly do they entice me to laugh. I realized this for the first time, I think, when my then-girlfriend (now-wife) took me to see a taping of the television show “Friends.” One of the actors would deliver a laugh line and I would smile, but what the producers wanted wasn't a smile but a loud guffaw. (What was most surprising to me was the way that, during the eighth take of what was once a funny scene, the production staff would come onto the set to fake a laugh for the purposes of the laugh track, since there's only so much thoughtless laughter you can expect the average American to supply.)

That being said, I thought this book was funny, and it even made me laugh, more than twice. A smattering of funny lines: “Sometimes a wet fart is known as a 'juicy dialectic'; that is to say, it's a constant struggle between nasty and awesome. Exercise caution when you decide it's time for a wet one” (56-7). “If I had my way, hot sauce would be the primary only ingredient in baby formula” (69). “His mom started yelling and screaming, then she tried to punch me, so I stepped to the side and she accidentally tripped and fell down four flights of stairs, and then she accidentally got peed on” (71-2). “These wet blankets downplay their breasts and trivialize them as just being 'bags of skin and fat.' If you think about it, babies are also just bags of skin and fat, but that doesn't stop women from cradling them” (90).

This book is the type of funny that you would not admit to enjoying at a family gathering or church function. I would not recommend this book to a family member because a lot of the humor and language is off-color, but having learned that a family member read and enjoyed this book, I would think that family member must be much cooler than I'd given him credit for.

Rating: 5.5 out of 7 giant inflatable monkeys.

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