by K.M. Zahrt
Before we get to the hooey, let’s get some facts straight: A Load of Hooey by Bob Odenkirk was released this past Tuesday, October 7, 2014. Amazon says it’s 112 pages long, but it’s really more like 144 pages. Its list price is $20, but you can get it online for more like $15 almost anywhere (and by almost anywhere, I really mean Amazon or Barnes and Noble). There. Now, let’s get started.
Comedian, actor, person extraordinaire, Robert John “Bob” Odenkirk has recently moved up the ever-fickle celebrity listings — from probably B/C to possibly even A — as a result of his success as shady-but-all-too-real lawyer Saul Goodman in AMC’s Breaking Bad, which is going to be the subject of a new AMC spin-off titled Better Call Saul. As a fan of Breaking Bad and the Saul Goodman character, I have mixed feelings about this. I’m concerned it’ll be a poorly done, overwrought cash grab, but I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more Odenkirk.
The Saturday Night Live reference, here, is appropriate as Odenkirk was a writer for the show from 1987-1991, but only somewhat as the famous “More Cowbell” sketch aired nearly ten years after his departure from the show (April 8, 2000).
I’ll admit I was late to the Odenkirk party, but I’ll blame my parents for that. I was a tween when Mr. Show with Bob and David (Cross) was running on HBO. Not only did my parents refuse to pay for the channel, but most of my friends’ parents declined as well. Needless to say, I can’t even imagine the comedic greatness I missed, but if “The Audition” sketch is any indication, the loss is tragic.
Odenkirk would, however unbeknown to me, make a lasting impression on my childhood. It wasn’t until I read the biography in the back of A Load of Hooey (I’m getting there. I’m getting there!) that I learned of his role in creating the famous Chris Farley character, Matt Foley, the motivational speaker. When I co-wrote and co-starred in my first comedy sketch in the eighth grade for an end-of-the-year banquet, it was nothing more than a series of thinly veiled parodies of scenes from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and popular-at-the-time SNL sketches, of which this character was surely one.
All of this to say, when I saw A Load of Hooey was coming out, I had to eat my wife-made sandwich while I drove to the bookstore to buy a copy on my lunch hour, crumbing all over my work-a-day attire on the way. As I marched around the store looking for a prominent display (Am I looking for a stack of ten, 15, 20 copies? My God, I hope they’re not sold out.) in the various the new release sections (Fiction, non-fiction — what the hell is it anyway?). It was nowhere to be found. At last, I gave up and asked a bookseller, who was confounded when I said, “Where can I find A Load of Hooey?” Thanks, Odenkirk. But, it was all worth it; there was one copy of this “collection of new short humor fiction” tucked away on the dusty storage shelf for funny books in a rarely trafficked corner of the store.
The sticker on the cover declares, “Inside is funny things.” It’s readily apparent that this is not a hard sell as the image of Odenkirk in the first few pages shows him “stuck under a cat holding someone’s wine and a stinky old pipe.” That imagery is somehow representative of the writing that follows.
The preface, titled “One Should Never Read a Book on the Toilet,” is an appropriately pre-emptive defense for the book, which could and should find a home atop the tank of anyone’s throne. Any visitor will be grateful, even if they only have time to appreciate one of the many “Famous Quotations — Unabridged” where Odenkirk finishes the incomplete thoughts of well-known sayings from icons such as Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, and Mark Twain. Not even Thomas Aquinas’ nor J.R.R. Tolkien’s referential legacies are safe.
More of my favorite pieces include: “A Portrait of the Artist” in which a journalist can’t find the artist he’s asked to profile; “Baseball Players’ Poems about Sportswriters and Sportswriting”; and “Obit for the Creator of Mad Libs.”
In conclusion, if I may make a recommendation: If you’re one of the last people on Earth who doesn’t have an Amazon Prime membership, and you’d like to order this book for the Amazon-low price of $15.20, but you’d also like to spend enough to qualify for the free shipping, add our very own I’ve Had Bigger: And Other Things My Wife Said by Jeff Rice to your cart. The sensibilities of these texts pair nicely. You can place them on the back of your toilet together, so they won’t get lonely. Unfortunately, you’re still going to be about $10 short of free shipping, but I have a solution. Since you’re upgrading your indoor outhouse to a pooping palace anyway, I would recommend completing your order with a marble toilet seat. You’ll finally be able to rest at ease knowing your guests are comfortable and endlessly amused when they’re number-two-ing at your place.
p.s. I just saw an advertisement on my Facebook feed for a mother of pearl elongated toilet seat. Great. Now the Internet thinks I’m in the market for a novelty tush-cush. I hope you appreciate the sacrifice I’ve made for you.