Ellen DeGeneres became the first and only female comic invited by Johnny Carson to sit down with him after her stand-up routine on the Tonight Show in 1986. Since then she has made history as the first openly gay lead character on television; hosted the Grammy Awards; won an Emmy, a Peabody Award, and a People's Choice Award; and published an instant bestselling book MY POINT…AND I DO HAVE ONE, which spent more than six months on the New York Times bestseller list. And now DeGeneres is back with a second book, THE FUNNY THING IS… (She likes ellipses.)
THE FUNNY THING IS… wastes no time. It jumps right into what DeGeneres does best, beginning with her reading instructions in the message from the author (page one): "Oh, and if you're reading this while you're driving, PUT THE BOOK AWAY! YOU'RE DRIVING, FOR PETE'S SAKE. But wherever you're reading this book, please remember to turn off your cell phone and that the taking of flash photographs is strictly forbidden."
DeGeneres's book is full of instructions and advice designed to make life easier for you, for all of us. For instance, her chapter entitled "My Most Embarrassing Case Scenario" notes, "There are all sorts of books offering advice on how to deal with life-threatening situations, but where's the advice on dealing with embarrassing ones? I mean, things like landing a burning plane, wrestling a crocodile, or jumping from a moving train happens maybe five, six times in your life. But if you're like me, embarrassing things happen hundreds of times each day." In trademark DeGeneres humor --- one part knowing hilarity, one part down-home, old fashioned wit, one part crafted naiveté, one part self deprecation (that's four parts, in case you're counting) --- she offers solutions to forgetting someone's name, accidentally revealing intimate thoughts to a stranger, losing yourself in the middle of a conversation, accidentally flipping off John Travolta (a common occurrence), and the dreaded, awkward Hug, Kiss or Shake Hands.
And in this time of thankfulness and New Year's resolutions, there's the chapter entitled "Making Your Life Count (And Other Fun Things to Do with Your Time)." Upon rising in the morning, DeGeneres checks off "get up" on her list of daily tasks and reads on to see what the day holds for her:
Sigh. Her list leaves her empty and in search of selfless, fulfilling acts. Read the book to see what becomes of her efforts to walk an old lady across the street, plant a tree and conserve energy. The beauty of reading a book by a well-known comedian like DeGeneres is that you hear her voice and her delivery of jokes throughout the pages, making the humor that much more enjoyable.
As the book jacket concludes, "Sure to make you laugh, THE FUNNY THING IS… is an indispensable reference for anyone who knows how to read or wants to fool people into thinking they do." Of course all the laughing out loud will be proof enough that you do indeed know how to read.
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on September 28, 2004
The Funny Thing Is...