Free-Range Chickens

January 24, 2009

OK, Xmas is coming, so what can I get Dad? According to my older daughter, the answer was a copy of Simon Rich’s latest collection of comic sketches, Free-Range Chickens. Did she do the right thing?

Yes. Yes, yes, oh yes.

Rich’s comedy is uneven and probably too many of the pieces deal with being a young or adolescent boy, but guess what? Middle-aged guys still get huge (and knowing) laughs out of the musings of Simon Rich’s heroes. Like the sullen uncertain teen-agers who populate nearly half of the book, I wanted, tried, and failed, to be the confident, cool dude capable of getting along masterfully with the opposite sex. And since nothing has changed except the reflection in the mirror, what can I do but laugh?

That said, the funniest parts of the book concerned situations of a less personal, more speculative variety:

  • the uncertain student-teacher relationship in oriental medicine (can two people use “chi” in a complete sentence without either one laughing?)
  • the most important qualitifications for presidential bodyguards (how tall are you? how wide? how thick?)
  • and the rather obvious question that never seems to get asked about people who keep running marathon races into their dotage: are they cursed?

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