Down & Nerdy: Mr. Funny Pants by Michael Showalter

Mr. Funny Pants
By Michael Showalter
288 Pages
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
Source: Library

Welcome to my feature here at Attack the Stacks…Down & Nerdy! Down & Nerdy will feature things like non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. – things that are generally considered to be, you know, nerdy.

Well, obviously this isn’t the type of book that I usually review. I do almost exclusively YA here with the odd non-fiction or adult fiction thrown in, and this is a humor memoir. I’m only reviewing it for two reasons: a) it’s really freaking funny; and b) I love Michael Showalter.

There. I said it. I love Michael Showalter. If you don’t know who he is, he’s a distinguished alum of MTV’s The State (if you are not familiar, acquaint yourself at once) as well as the cult comedy troupe Stella and the movie Wet Hot American Summer.

He’s an exceptionally awkward human being, which I can totally relate to. There is a story in the book where he sneakily reads a text being sent by a woman who he is sitting next to on an airplane, only to find out that it’s a not-flattering text about him. Obviously he can’t say anything because she’ll know that he’s been creeping on her while she’s texting. So after being momentarily heartbroken he does what all awkward human beings do – he stews on it for the entire flight and comes up with a real zinger, then hunts her down and delivers it when they get off of the plane…only to realize after she’s gone that all he succeeded in doing was agreeing with what she said about him in the first place. And apologizing to her for it. Oops.

While I read this book I made several noises that did not previously exist. I snorted, I snarfled, and I thought I’d die laughing. It’s quite possible that some of these stories are embellished, but it doesn’t really matter. All great storytellers embellish a bit. Then again, maybe it’s all 100% true…the truth is usually stranger than fiction, after all.

He and I also have similar problems with taking naps. One of my favorite quotes from the book, which not coincidentally also reminds me of myself: “Like, I could take a nap at 4:15 PM and then I’ll wake up twenty minutes later and have absolutely no clue where I am. I’m like, “What era is this? Is it the 1920s? Am I a flapper? Should I go put on a flapper costume and flap at a party?”

Basically I’m not going to do this book any justice. If you like to laugh, read it. If you hate fun, don’t read it. The choice is yours.


Down & Nerdy: Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Welcome to my latest feature here at Attack the Stacks…Down & Nerdy! Down & Nerdy will feature things like non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. – things that are generally considered to be, you know, nerdy.

Hark! A Vagrant
By Kate Beaton
168 Pages
Drawn & Quarterly

Hark! A Vagrant takes readers on a romp through history and literature—with dignity for few and cookies for all—with comic strips about famous authors, their characters, and political and historical figures, all drawn in Kate Beaton’s pared-down, excitable style. This collection features favorite stories as well as new, previously unpublished content. Whether she’s writing about Nikola Tesla, Napoleon, or Nancy Drew, Beaton brings a refined sense of the absurd to every situation.

In just four years, Beaton has taken the comics world by storm with her non sequiturs, cheeky comebacks, and irreverent punch lines. With 1.2 million monthly hits on her site—500,000 of them unique—and comics appearing in Harper’s Magazine, the National Post, and The New Yorker, her caricatures of historical and fictional figures filtered through a contemporary lens display a sharp, quick wit that knows no bounds.

So here is where I make my obligatory disclaimer – I don’t normally do comics. I don’t really even do graphic novels all the often. But in this case I make an exception because these comics are, by and large, involving characters from history and literature. Can you get more nerdy than that?

Still not interested? The first comic in the book is called “Dude Watchin’ with the Brontes.” Yes, those Brontes. There’s a comic that wonders which Sex and the City character Susan B. Anthony would be most like. And…AND. There is a comic involving Maurice Richard for those hockey fans out there. YAY. Needless to say, these are my kind of comics. If history and lit isn’t scary enough for the general public, Beaton is Canadian so she throws some Canadian history at readers.

While this is a bit of a niche book for a certain type of person, there is a little something for everybody. There are the Crime Solving Teens (which pokes fun at YA), Sherlock Holmes, Napoleon, David Bowie, Anne of Green Gables, Shakespeare, Poe & Jules Verne, Beethoven (or Beeth-Oven, if you’re Bill S. Preston, Esq.), Burke & Howe…Beaton’s comics take us on a tour through history and literature. If you’re interested in graphic novels or just branching out a bit, give this one a try.

3.75/5 Stars