Review: Laff It Off - George Wallace
|"If you're reading this, then I already got your damned money"|
I'm not a great scholar of comedy, but – like everybody else
– I know what's funny and what's not, and your opinion is wrong.
So, when I got an email from a PR company asking me if I'd
like to review a book by US comedian George Wallace, I said "yes",
and promptly forgot about it. And when they asked me several months later
whether I had actually read the book or not, I had to admit that the download
link had – in fact – expired in January, and could they send it again, please?
That means I finally have a copy of 'Laff It Off' not
exactly in my sweaty paws, but in the solid state memory of my iPad, the
slightly peeling corner of its newly installed screen protector reminding me that
my ninja skills aren't quite as silky as I like to think they are.
I'm not exactly the fastest of readers, either, but I stuck
to my guns and got the Wallace finished in 24 hours. My big problem with books
is that I get several on the go at once (and 'Laff It Off' became the fifth on
the current inventory), so this review make become mixed with two volumes of
military obituaries, one of a niche erotica (also for review) and a tale of
sword and derring-do set in the Hundred Years War. My apologies if this comes
Wallace is one of those comedians who is well known in the
States, but is virtually unknown over here. He's a contemporary and friend of
the great Jerry Seinfeld (who writes the forward of this number), and performs
stand-up to packed houses. One of the reasons you might not have seen him in
the UK is that seems to be doing just fine performing in residence in Vegas.
That sort of gig does tend to give you one hell of a comfort zone.
Laff It Off, Wallace's book on his rise to fame from his
days selling rags door-to-door, is one of those comedian's guide-to-life books
that are ten-a-penny, but – and as a former salesman, he'd like the analogy –
has the unique selling points of a) not outstaying its welcome and b) marvelous hand-drawn diagrams.
The latter appeals to me, because I've been getting away
with lo-fi comedy for years, and it's pleasing to note that there's money in
it. Also, it's funny. For eg, this from page five:
He is wrong, by the way. I am 48 years old and live for the
day they cut a You've Been Framed Man-Getting-Hit-In-The-Fork Special.
But, as a 48-year-old, this one's just about spot on.
The humour is very American, but we've been exposed to
enough US comedy down the years for that not to be a problem. Wallace has made the most of a career in front of US audiences, and that - I think - is our loss. We just don't get to see much quality US comedy, and when we do, it's through the medium of cinema rather than veriety show, stand-up or sitcom.
The problem for
UK TV audiences, mind you, is the reluctance of major networks to take a risk on
American comedy (they barely take a risk on British comedy, come to think of
it), so you do have to make an effort to find anything decent. I worship 30
Rock and Parks and Rec, but they're hardly mainstream, and my Ron Swanson
wallpaper on my work computer is merely there as a test to sort the cool people
from the people who are not cool.
|Are you one of the cool people? No. No, you are not.|
Any exposure for decent US comedy like Mr Wallace is a good thing, and I'm not even being paid to say it.
And back to the chase as we reach the final reel of this blockbuster: As the British archers rained down death
on the French men-at-arms at the Battle of Poitiers, I realised that I actually
needed to finish Laff It Off because it was a Could-You-Review-This-Book-Please
book that's actually good, and I had wasted the best part of four months not
reviewing it, leading me to draw my own graphs to illustrate stuff.
I'll grant you that he is far better at drawing lo-fi comedy graphs than I am, but George has had plenty of practice. Kids these days, stuck in front of their computers and iPads - nobody's learning anything new. Nobody's got those graph-drawing skills the way an enormously successful stand-up comic has.
Laff It Off by the very funny George Wallace gets four
hand-drawn graphs out of five, and my seal of approval. Buy it off the Amazon
and from shops that sell books made out of paper, an' stuff.
|THE SCARYDUCK SEAL OF APPROVAL|
So mote it be.