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Clothing Optional: And Other Ways to Read These Stories Hardcover – September 16, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1 edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345500865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345500861
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,954,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 Zweibel is the funniest writer in the world. He might be even funnier when he's naked, but I'm afraid to find out."    
 --Dave Barry

"I've known Alan Zweibel since 1975, and I've always had this sneaking suspicion that he might possess a sense of humor.  After reading CLOTHING OPTIONAL, I'm almost sure he does."      
--Rob Reiner

"So funny, so smart.  I can't wait to re-read Alan's book with the TV off."
--Martin Short

"Read Alan Zweibel and you'll be reminded of the likes of Robert Benchley and S.J. Perelman. You can't help but be moved by his warmth and insight even as you laugh your ass off."
--David Steinberg

"Reading Alan Zweibel makes me laugh out loud.   And yet it is not a particularly funny name."
--Eric Idle

 
"This new work by my lifelong pal proves two things. One, he deserves his iconic status  as a humorist and two, he needs hospitalization.”
--Richard Lewis

"This book made me sick - that l didn't write it."
--Larry Gelbart

"That Alan Zweibel is deeply funny is a given.  The thing that I really love about this collection is Alan's humanity.  Read it.  It's wise, hilarious and original."
--Susie Essman
.



Praise for Alan Zweibel’s The Other Shulman

“Entertaining, funny . . . winning deadpan humor . . . [Zweibel] writes with a jaundiced satirical eye.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review

“A style that successfully blends the woebegone humor of Woody Allen with the whiplash sarcasm of Jerry Seinfeld.”
–Booklist

“[Zweibel has] a deft humorous touch.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“An amazing comic novel that is every bit as novel as it is comic.”
–Larry David, creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm

“Wonderfully inventive . . . hilarious, emotional, and powerful.”
–Billy Crystal

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Groner VINE VOICE on 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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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 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Brill on 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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