Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Out Today: Eugene Mirman's The Will To Whatevs

Eugene Mirman’s new advice book, The Will To Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life, is so helpful, he needs two prefaces and three introductions to prepare you for all of the help. And even that won’t fully prepare you, which is why you need to read the rest of it.

Mirman covers everything you might want to do in life. Want to own the night? Find love? Find a rhythm guitarist? Make millions of dollars off of the ideas of foreigners? Or just get through high school without embarrassing yourself? Mirman packs it all into just over two hundred pages.

According to Mirman, Mirman is in a special class of people like coaches, priests, and psychologists that he calls “Mind Thinkers.” That’s what qualifies him to help you Over-Actualize yourself, and make up words like Defendtastic, that don’t actually mean anything, but help enhance the perception of Mirman’s authority. Each chapter covers a different life question, bolstered by timelines and graphs and quotes from Mirman’s other books (“If no one figures out you are pretending to be retarded, your life will be greeted with treasure.” – Eugene Miman, from his book Inspirational Proverbs for No One in Particular.).

It’s easy to hear Mirman’s comic voice while you’re reading Will to Whatevs. His brand of absurdist misdirection works wonderfully with the concept of a fake (?) advice book. His thoughts on making an impression in high school – “Buy the most expensive jeans in a two-hundred mile radius of your town and wear them on your first day. If anyone asks how you could afford them, say that your father is president of Ashton Kutcher.”

Those who are familiar with Mirman as a stand-up could hear him delivering that line onstage. And since his delivery is so important to the joke, give Mirman a tremendous amount of credit for making that translate in print. That transition is not always easy for a comedian, which is why books just based on a comedian’s act are often lacking punch. Whatevs, though, is the type of book you’ll want to look up from and quote to whoever is around you. Try to resist doing that, though, since, if you’re me, it tends to irritate people.

There are a few treats for Mirman’s Boston fanbase. He talks about growing up and going to school here, and in his list of suggested Halloween costumes, number ten is “Rick Jenkins, founder of the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts.” I’m not sure what that will mean to the rest of the country, but it should make Boston comedy fans smile.

A few favorite quotes:

On money:
At any given moment you stand at the threshold of opportunity, just a million dollars and a new idea away from having fifty million dollars and the kind of car a Poison groupie would let you punch her in the face to ride in. I will help you cross over that threshold and punch that groupie.

On Condoleezza Rice’s death from a power overdose:
I know she isn’t dead right now, but I am hoping that this book becomes a classic, and when people read it a hundred years from now, they’ll figure that Condoleezza Rice, whoever she was, died from smoking power.

On protesting:
Nothing tells the government to keep doing what they’re doing like a small number of seemingly confused protesters defeated on a street corner. Do not hold a tiny protest, please. Hold only big ones.

On business models:
Either way, don’t forget to “like wear a rubber in the shower,” if you know what I mean, which you don’t, because it’s too complex. So to really understand this, buy my other book, Eugene’s Confusing Analogies, Explained!

On formerly held jobs:
Both law and investment firms are feudal in nature and seem to lack the instinct to treat all employees like people rather than fourteen-dollar-an-hour hookers with no future or teeth.

2 comments:

Walter said...

Boston or no Boston, Mirman is hilarious. Well worth checking out.

Insults said...

ha! this looks great! Def. will check this oooooooot, as we say in England.