Please Advise

26 Sep

So I’m phoning it in a bit this week: I’m exhausted, coming down with some sort of cold that I plan on ignoring, and in the middle of a 1,000-page Stephen King opus that I totally could have finished in a week if that week were not also the start of fall of television (for me, a month-long frenzy of trying out new cop dramas and quirky comedies before deciding what can feasibly be added to my DVR schedule.)

Fortunately for all of us—all five—I have a spare book to review. Because some sick sad neurotic old cat lady inside of me is already hoarding finished books to fill the inevitable gaps in my blog posting; as though the world would end if I let a week pass without word-vomiting all over the Internet. (Note: It would.)

You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You (from here on out referred to as YAHPBILY) has been a staple in my apartment—appearing intermittently on couches, chairs, counters and yes, in the bathroom—for the last year, during which I would read it in small increments between more ambitious fare. Finally on Friday, when I brought it out with me in lieu of the 1,000-pager (even I’m not that devoted when bar-hopping) I managed to finish this slim volume of hilarity on my 4 a.m. train ride home. Yay productive use of drunk travel!

I suppose there’s no way to not take it easy with a review like this: YAHPBILY isn’t the kind of book one really sits down and reads. It’s a “book of advice,” a slapstick parody of Dear Abby and similar columns, where answers to the questions from “readers” (who are not real people) are provided by a veritable smorgasbord of current comics and actors, including Sarah Silverman, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Sedaris (among many, many others.)

Although I haven’t actually read it, YAHPBILY reminds me in spirit of I Found This Funny, a collection of humor writing edited by Judd Apatow. Perhaps also of David Cross’ I Drink for a Reason, Sarah Silverman’s The Bedwetter, Tina Fey’s Bossypants, or really any whole book written by a comedian. As YAHPBILY specifically, it is a telling group of “advisers” that add their two cents to these pages, and if you’ve found yourself not amused by the recent (by which I mean past decade’s worth) of funny-by-virtue-of-being-awkward humor, perhaps this book isn’t for you. On the flip side, if you’ve ever wondered how Michael Cera thinks you should deal with a landlady who is in all probability dealing crack, pick yourself up a copy.

THE VERDICT: 

It would be hard to decide whether the questions in YAHPBILY—”Dear Tim and/or Eric, I really want to fight a bear. How can I make this happen?”—or the answers, are more ridiculous (a response from Cera on “what to do this weekend” includes advice on planting an arroyo or soapberry tree, waiting 2-3 hours for it to grow and proceeding to talk to it). Each comedian takes a unique approach to dealing with their imaginary audience, and responses run the gamut from personal anecdotes to deadpan suggestions to blatant (however farcical) insults aimed at the question and/or the asker of said question and or the name and hometown of said asker. But rarely are any of the above disappointing. Bottom line? If you’re in the market for a book to leave around your apartment for 2-minute increments of sporadic time-killing, this is a good one. Just don’t be weirded out when you hear laughter coming from the bathroom.

THE FACTS:
——————————————————————–
TITLE: You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You
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AUTHOR: various
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PAGES: 216 (in paperback)
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ALSO WROTE: n/a
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SORTA LIKE: Dear Abby meets I Like You
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FIRST LINE: “Dear David Cross: We’re thinking about publishing a book of advice.”

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