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Clothing Optional: And Other Ways to Read These Stories [Kindle Edition]

Alan Zweibel
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $22.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $11.01 (50%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“Garry, it’s Alan. Look, I’m calling because I just felt the need to tell someone that I’m forty-four years old, and about an hour ago, for the first time in my life, I put suntan lotion on my ass. I’ll explain later. Bye.”

In Clothing Optional, Alan Zweibel offers a collection of laugh-out-loud personal narratives, essays, short fiction, dialogues, and even a few whimsical drawings. Zweibel first made a name for himself as one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live, but his career’s humble beginnings included creating one-liners for Catskill comedians at seven dollars a pop. That experience is only one of the hysterically inspired anecdotes (“Comic Dialogue”) in this quirky compilation.

Zweibel confesses his first love, as a young Hebrew school student, for Abraham’s wife, Sarah (“At this point, Sarah’s husband had been dead for more than three thousand years–so, really, who would I be hurting?”); recounts the time he was sent to a nudist resort to write an article (“The fact that I brought luggage is, in itself, worthy of some discussion”); offers a touching tribute to Saturday Night Live writer and mentor Herb Sargent (“Herb was New York. But an older, more romantic New York that took place in black and white like the kind of TV I grew up on and wanted to be a part of someday”); and imagines a scenario in which Sergeant Joe Friday, the stiff, monotoned character from Dragnet, is inexplicably partnered with Snoop Dogg (“Damn, Friday. You gotta learn to chill. Take some free time and kick it with your boys”)

Every piece is punctuated with the same wit and insight that have come to define Zweibel’s humor.

Unhinged and hilarious, Clothing Optional is an unguided tour through the uniquely peculiar life and mind of a man who The New York Times said “has earned a place in the pantheon of American pop culture.”


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Saturday Night Live writing alum and Thurber Prize winner Zweibel (The Other Shulman) returns with a collection of essays, short stories and ephemera that should solidify his place among American satirists. The books starts off strong with "Letters From an Annoying Man," a fictional tete-a-tete between Zweibel and a misguided fan that quickly escalates (with shades of Curb Your Enthusiasm, another show Zweibel has written for); the title essay, detailing Zweibel's trip to a nudist resort; and "Herb Sargent," a meditation on the mercurial qualities of friendship. At its best, Zweibel's work has depth and a respect for his subjects commiserate with his self-deprecating sense of humor; instead of laughing at nudists, readers laugh at Zweibel as he struggles with an erection in the swimming pool, or suffers the indignity of being beaten in the New York City Marathon by a runner dressed as a polar bear, or the litany of abuse he endures as a Little League commissioner. Though some pieces run long ("Comic Dialogue," "Happy"), comedy fans will appreciate Zweibel's range, as well as his ability to convey tender moments. Many humor books are consumed and forgotten; this is one to read and revisit.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Saturday Night Live writing alum and Thurber Prize winner Zweibel (The Other Shulman) returns with a collection of essays, short stories and ephemera that should solidify his place among American satirists. The books starts off strong with “Letters From an Annoying Man,” a fictional tete-a-tete between Zweibel and a misguided fan that quickly escalates (with shades of Curb Your Enthusiasm, another show Zweibel has written for); the title essay, detailing Zweibel’s trip to a nudist resort; and “Herb Sargent,” a meditation on the mercurial qualities of friendship. At its best, Zweibel’s work has depth and a respect for his subjects commiserate with his self-deprecating sense of humor; instead of laughing at nudists, readers laugh at Zweibel as he struggles with an erection in the swimming pool, or suffers the indignity of being beaten in the New York City Marathon by a runner dressed as a polar bear, or the litany of abuse he endures as a Little League commissioner. Though some pieces run long (“Comic Dialogue,” “Happy”), comedy fans will appreciate Zweibel’s range, as well as his ability to convey tender moments. Many humor books are consumed and forgotten; this is one to read and revisit.

Praise for CLOTHING OPTIONAL

"Humor writer, author, playwright. But enough about me. Alan Zweibel's book made me laugh out loud!"
--Steve Martin

"If you're only going to read one book this year, well, you're a moron and this is definitely not the book for you. If, however, you're depressed, agitated, bitter, horny, bi-polar, a layabout, or a pathological liar, then, like me, you have much in common with the depraved soul who wrote these stories and owe it to yourself and whatever loved ones you probably don't have, to read it."  
--Larry David

"Alan Zwei...

Product Details

  • File Size: 329 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345500865
  • Publisher: Villard; 1 edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001FA0VCG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,758 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most of these humorous sketches are winners November 18, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Humor is never an easy thing to pull off on a consistent basis. Zweibel succeeds most of the time, which is high praise. His wry, self-deprecating humor, clearly tinged by his New York Jewish background, contains elements of Nora Ephron and Woody Allen. But Zweibel is less afraid to move in the direction of the sentimental without fear of becoming too maudlin. The sketch about the varieties of Catskills comics -- there are six species, the "unknown," the "semi-name, the "name" and so on -- had me laughing out loud. And the one with the former New York Met player, long retired, and his encounter with an unusual baseball fan was poignant, if a bit long. Lots of good stories here.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The balance in your 401(k) is shrinking. The value of your home is drifting downward like the falling autumn leaves. Need a good laugh? Who doesn't these days? Thanks to CLOTHING OPTIONAL, Alan Zweibel's collection of short stories, personal essays, sketches and occasional pieces (along with a Vonnegut-like drawing or two), your prayers may have been answered.

Zweibel was one of the original writers on "Saturday Night Live" and perhaps is best known for BUNNY BUNNY, the touching memoir of his close friendship with Gilda Radner. Crediting his show business career to the 23 law schools that refused to admit him, Zweibel shares a Jewish comic sensibility with contemporaries from Long Island like his close friend, Billy Crystal. "Woody Allen's my idol," Zweibel writes, and there's also an Allenesque aura that hovers unmistakably over these pages. CLOTHING OPTIONAL is something of a grab bag of material, culled from Zweibel's writings for publications as diverse as the AARP Bulletin and Atlantic Monthly. Like a solid standup routine, if one piece doesn't suit your taste, just wait a minute, because the next one is likely to score.

The targets of Zweibel's observational wit are wide-ranging, but he has a striking fondness for biblically-themed material. He confesses that as an 11-year-old his first love was Sarah, Abraham's wife. While he admires the fact that she was "wise and understanding," one principal attraction was a very practical one: "Plus, at this point in time, Sarah's husband had been dead for more than three thousand years --- so really, who would I be hurting?" He also offers the tale of God's dialogue with Joshua and a hapless caterer named Mendel that provides a take on the story of Jericho's fall unlike anything you learned in Sunday school.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars i was hoping for bigger laffs;... August 18, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
a funny guy, an almost funny collecton. give it a try...you might get a few more giggles than i did.
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