The funny man is a middling comic in an unnamed city. By day he takes care of his infant son, by night he performs in small clubs, sandwiched between other aspiring comics. His wife waits tables to support the family. It doesn’t sound like much, but they’re happy, more or less. Until the day he comes up with it. His thing. His gimmick...
The funny man is a middling comic in an unnamed city. By day he takes care of his infant son, by night he performs in small clubs, sandwiched between other aspiring comics. His wife waits tables to support the family. It doesn’t sound like much, but they’re happy, more or less. Until the day he comes up with it. His thing. His gimmick. And everything changes. He’s a headliner, and the venues get bigger fast. Pretty soon it’s Hollywood and a starring role in a blockbuster, all thanks to the gimmick.
Which is: He performs with his fist in his mouth to the wrist. Jokes, impressions, commercials—all with his fist in his mouth to the wrist. The people want him—are crazy for him—but only with his fist in his mouth.
And the funny man, he is tired of having his fist in his mouth.
Thus, as the novel begins, his career’s in tatters, his family’s left him, and he’s on trial for shooting an unarmed man six times. But for the second time in his life, against all odds, he’s found love. This time with another celebrity, who may or may not be sending him coded messages, and may or may not be equally in love—or even know he exists. A coruscating satire of our culture of celebrity, this debut novel documents one individual’s slide from everyman to monster, even as it reveals the potential for grace—and mercy—in his life.
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“John Warner is an uncommonly funny and gifted writer who has managed to make the business of comedy actually funny, as opposed to the awful self-negating mess that it actually is (I may only be speaking from personal experience on this last point.) This book will make you laugh and think and laugh some more.”
—Michael Ian Black
“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
“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
“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.”