Texas Book Festival
Whether in their head, on paper or in a published anthology, comedians keep lists of comedy heroes who gave them their first lessons in comedy. Paul Reubens, The Kids in the Hall and many of the writers of The Simpsons are some of the most important people in my life, and I dream of finding some way to pay tribute to them.
Andy Borowitz, satirical writer and comedian, recently got a chance to do just that, when he was asked by the Library of America to edit an anthology of the 50 funniest American writers. He'll be revealing many of them this Saturday at the Texas Book Festival where Austinites can hope for a defense of the authors and comedians included and omitted.
The book is called The 50 Funniest American Writers, but Borowitz admits that it is actually the 50 funniest American writings that work in short excerpts in this particular book. 50 Funniest American Writers only evaluates books and articles and ignores the other things they’ve written, like screenplays or stand up comedy. (For the record, Tina Fey was ineligible because Bossypants came out after Borowitz’s deadline.)
The world-class comedians whose written works did not make the cut are certain to outrage anyone who reads 50 Funniest American Writers. (He earns major points from me for including Wanda Sykes, David Rakoff, George Saunders, Sloane Crosley and Woody Allen.) But this anthology comes with a lot of disclaimers. Borowitz is aware of how useless a definitive list of funny people can be, except that it can still be a lot of fun.
Borowitz himself has earned many awards and made many "Best Of" lists for his site, BorowitzReport.com, which he started in 2001, and for his columns in the New Yorker and Huffington Post. For the Borowitz Report, he does the work of the entire Onion staff, writing short, devastating satirical articles mostly about how moronic the GOP is. His Twitter feed alone is one of the best arguments in favor of starting a Twitter account.
Borowitz will be reading alone, and amazing local comedy writer Tyler Stoddard Smith will moderate. Smith’s work has been featured in Utne, Esquire and McSweeney’s, and you have seen him in town reading at various literary events. In summer 2012, Smith will be publishing a humorous book about prostitution with Adams Media. I can almost not contain my excitement for this panel, which is at the United Methodist Church at 1201 Lavaca at 4:15 pm on Saturday.