cover image Who Stole the Funny?

Who Stole the Funny?

Robby Benson, . . HarperEntertainment, $13.95 (349pp) ISBN 978-0-06-124500-8

Drawing on his experience directing Friends , Benson offers in his debut a derivative parody of behind-the-scenes Los Angeles that fails to skewer any of its easy targets. Has-been sitcom director J.T. Baker, a “passionate schmuck” in a self-imposed exile from Hollywood, is picked to helm the hit show I Love My Urban Buddies (“the biggest sitcom in eons”) after his predecessor meets an unfortunate end via an unfaithful wife, a hot tub and a nail gun. Desperate for money and health insurance to cover his son’s kidney dialysis treatment, J.T. accepts the assignment and flies to California. Upon his arrival, he clashes with Debbie, the “voluptuous” sexpot network liaison; Lance, the underqualified studio exec; and the married terrors Stephanie and Marcus Pooley, the show’s creators. J.T.’s only ally on the lot is his friend Asher Black, who helps J.T. survive Marcus’s lecherous casting sessions, puerile assistant directors, an on-set pederast and a cast of babied egoists. Benson’s flat, one-dimensional characters are hard to take seriously, and readers may have a hard time sympathizing with the long-winded J.T., especially after he anoints himself “the Sergeant at Arms of the Moral Police.” Benson’s background in the TV biz is apparent, but his roman à clef doesn’t pop. (Sept.)