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The Funny Man Paperback – September 25, 2012
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“John Warner's The Funny Man is a funny novel about a funny man who sticks his whole hand in his mouth in a funny way. But it's much more than that—a wise, rueful, surprisingly tender book about what happens when we get what we want, and then what happens when we keep on wanting things. A very American novel, in other words, a novel that reminds me of Walker Percy's and Saul Bellow's very American novels. I can think of no higher praise for a novel, and The Funny Man deserves it.”—Brock Clarke, author of Exley and An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
"I'm not at all surprised that John Warner would invent the perfect Everyman for our age: a comic whose meteoric rise to fame is based on a stupid gimmick. Half first-person tell-all, half third-person takedown—a brilliant structure—The Funny Man is a whip-smart satire of celebrity culture. It is hysterical, and sad, and ultimately indicts us all. An excellent novel."—Jessica Francis Kane, author of The Report
“What people will do for fame never looked so bad, or conceivable. John Warner tips celebrity culture a few degrees toward the absurd, and out falls a human, dying from a joke. The Funny Man shows us what blooms in the shadows of the paparazzi’s flashbulbs—nothing pretty, but true and damn amusing.”—Rosecrans Baldwin, author of You Lost Me There
“An illuminating satire…a sharply focused lampoon of the escalating absurdity of the newest virulent strains of celebrity culture—as the story’s funny man straddles a deeply conflicted persona reminding us that comedy is after all, no joke.”—The Daily Beast
“Darkly funny.... [Warner] peppers his book with clever asides that themselves could serve as stand-up bits.... But these serve more as comic relief to the book’s provocative theme of being careful what you wish for.... The last third of the book is ambiguous, but serves as a meditation on therapy, the afterlife, and connecting with a kindred spirit. It works because like the rest of the novel, it’s the biting social commentary that Warner is going for, not wrapping things up in a bow.”—Splitsider
"America's favorite comedian is on trial for manslaughter, and 'the funny man''s lawyer, Barry, has a unique defense: not guilty by way of celebrity.... [An] equally sickening and humorous portrait of the celebrity as a delusional man."—Publisher's Weekly
“In his first novel, Warner skewers the culture of celebrity.... Not guilty by reason of celebrity (hey, it worked for Rob Lowe and Charlie Sheen). The funny man’s fall is precipitous, yet in the midst of it, he manages to find love again with (who else?) another celebrity ... a clever premise.”—Booklist
“The Funny Man joins a short list of intelligent, dark comedies about self-loathing main characters whose success is built on the poor taste and/or low IQ of the American public. In so doing, Mr. Warner follows the path of authors like Chris Buckley and Randall Silvis, but he is darker than the former and funnier than the latter. Regardless of the company he keeps, The Funny Man puts John Warner among the most perceptive and edgy chroniclers of an increasingly coarse American culture.”—New York Journal of Books
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In the earliest moments of Warner's tome, you know that he is establishing an unrepentant anti-hero. The Funny Man (as he is always referred to) is not an evil man, but exists in the world of social awkwardness and complete self-involvement. Hey, but that seems perfect to compete in the narcissistic Hollywood milieu of fame and fortune. In an inspired bit of plotting, the central comedian has achieved enormous success for one particular stunt--he thrusts his entire hand in his mouth and does incomprehensible impressions. Wildly successful, and somewhat self-loathing, the Funny Man makes the most of this stunt comedy while despising what it has reduced his creative output to. Early chapters detailing the rise of the Funny Man and his family life are spot-on.Read more ›
Mostly he just wants to be funny, and he is. Then he becomes famous, which is something else he thought he wanted to be, but from the moment he hits the big time, the Funny Man is doomed. Like Jurgis Rudkus happily taking his first job in the slaughterhouses of Chicago, the Funny Man embraces his good fortune, and thereby enters a downward spiral of obscene wealth, overexposure, addiction, divorce, and worse.
Yet Warner makes the Funny Man's chaotic journey disarmingly entertaining. The Funny Man's perspective on his fate--we get both the first- and third-person versions--is keenly observed and sharply rendered (indeed, the Funny Man exhibits remarkably clear vision for someone who makes such bad decisions). True, the humor is not a warm-and-fuzzy kind of funny; it's not especially jolly, and if you've lost your faith in humanity this book may not restore it. But it does what the best humor should do: It braces the reader for the sting of uncomfortable and painful reality. And so the novel's exploration of suffering and atonement feels honest, and fresh, and astonishingly readable.
Warner invites readers to contemplate questions not often addressed in a comedic novel. Can the Funny Man be forgiven? Should he be? If he can't earn redemption, can he buy it instead? Whether the Funny Man achieves enlightenment or merely insanity is, ultimately, almost beside the point. What matters is that he takes the reader along with him all the way to the bitter, ludicrous end.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
if one likes scathing show biz satires, then you will probably like this book. if you don't like them, this isn't going to change your mind. Read morePublished on June 14, 2012 by carol irvin
I enjoy character studies, even long winded ones so I thought this would be a good example of that. I liked that it was about a comedian and some slamming show business (I think we... Read morePublished on May 3, 2012 by Nanciejeanne
Overall I would say the story was interesting, and sometimes quite witty. I had trouble following at some points, and thought the funny man himself was kind of crazy and I didn't... Read morePublished on March 13, 2012 by Holly Lee
A well-written satire on becoming famous and what happens afterwards. The main character goes from struggling comic and devoted husband and dad to self-centered superstar - and... Read morePublished on January 10, 2012 by JoLynn
While so many people think this book is funny, I actually think it is a sad. The funny man (unknown name and I wonder why that is all he is known by) has everything before he made... Read morePublished on December 30, 2011 by Suzie - Bunny's Review
The Funny Man, as the title character is referred to, is often more sad than funny-tragicomic. He starts as a standup comedian, but its his onstange antics of putting his fist in... Read morePublished on December 15, 2011 by choiceweb0pen0
It's really easy to be sarcastic and cynical and to find little or no value in anything. Read more
Don't get caught up with fame and celebrity and comedy. This book is as much about comedy as Moby Dick is about a whale. Read morePublished on October 8, 2011 by brian d foy
Nobody thinks the funny man is funny until he comes up with his special schtick. Then everyone around him thinks he is funny--at least funny enough to make a lot of money. Read morePublished on October 7, 2011 by Kindle Customer