cover image The Funny Man

The Funny Man

John Warner. Soho, $24 (288p) ISBN 978-1-56947-973-5

This debut novel from the editor of McSweeney's Internet Tendency is a surprisingly tame takedown of celebrity culture.America's favorite comedian is on trial for manslaughter, and "the funny man"%C2%A0's lawyer, Barry, has a unique defense: not guilty by way of celebrity. Fame itself frees the funny man from responsibility over his actions; in Barry's legal terms, "At the very least any celebrity by definition has a prima facie case of diminished capacity." The same, we soon discover, could be said of the funny man's rise to fame: from comedy club obscurity to a starring role in a road trip flick and a hit TV show called Kick in the A$$, his success relies on a gag he can't afford to quit: he performs with his entire fist shoved into his mouth. As the funny man, under house arrest, awaits his fate, we learn that the trial is a mere cherry on top of the requisite celebrity meltdown sundae: divorce, drug problems, abuse of domestic help, child neglect. An obsession with a hot young tennis star makes this equally sickening and humorous portrait of the celebrity as a delusional man complete. (Sept.)