This was by far the worst purchase I've made. It was not clever, funny or even entertaining.
Choose a different subject.
I expected to only like this audio book, not love it. I'm delighted to report that the latter was true, due to a surprisingly theatrical performance by the author, and a refreshingly thoughtful audio production.
I've always been a fan of Patton's stand-up comedy, and while his delivery and fresh approach to bit concepts always keeps me laughing, there are times when those qualities are solely what holds my attention, as the nearer to nerd-dom the subject matter gets, the harder I have to push my brain to stay focused. This isn't to say that D&D and sci-fi fantasy isn't a good comedic premise, I know it relates to a lot of people, but through some chemical imbalance in my brain as soon as I hear the words "wizard", "zombie", or "Star Wars" I switch into nap mode and find it hard to... I literally just yawned. The fact that the book title is made entirely of my personal bummer themes kept me from downloading the thing for a couple weeks, but eventually my appreciation for Patton's comedy won out, and I'm damn sure glad it did.
Don't get me wrong, this audio book is nerdy. If you love nerd things, especially early science fiction novels, retro alien flicks, and Fugazi (bonus drinking game potential here. take a shot every time the band is mentioned and there's a good chance you'll finish the audio book with your head in the toilet), you'll love it. Nothing that makes me love this audio book will make you dungeon masters dislike it. The real saving grace for me personally was the sheer quality of the delivery. I shouldn't be surprised, having (legally) downloaded all of Patton's albums, I'm familiar with his ability to turn the uninteresting (changing diapers, KFC, etc...) into the riveting, but what I expected to be a push through the sci-fi to the good stuff turned out to be the first time I've ever been intrigued by geek talk. Oswalt's reading performance was energetic at the peaks, measured and suspenseful when appropriate, and at times downright poetic. Halfway through the first chapter I forgot it was an audio book and realized I was listening to it more as a solo theater show, or monologue.
Coupled with a refreshing laissez faire approach to the reading (a couple minor speech hiccups or stammers were preserved, and chapter introductions were, if not improvised, convincingly scripted) was a keen production sense. Audio cues were sparse but appropriately timed, bonus audio content was a real treat. That being said, you could almost hear the producer in the background, leaving the booth to go for coffee as Patton ran his own show. The lack of over-direction is something I wish more audio books would aim for. Too often the forced find-and-replace transition from written text to audio book ("thank you for readi--I mean, listening to this boo--I mean, audio book.") is made even worse by an inflexibility of the producer, and the end product sometimes feels more like a computer text annotator than a performance by the author.
I could go on... so I will.
The real genius here is that Patton doesn't really have much to say. This is less a memoir than it is a collection of short story premises drawn from experience, on which Oswalt builds a rich and intriguing set, careful to fill in every detail, but with an efficiency that keeps each beat fresh. One story has little to do with the other, and it really doesn't matter. Oswalt could publish 6 more of these before he should ever feel the need to "look back" and tie it all together. Where do I pre-order?
Bonuses to look forward to:
-Disgustingly hilarious Hobo songs
-The best translation of visual humor to audio format (greeting cards read aloud)
-Michael freaking Stipe
I would recommend this audiobook to a friend who enjoys Patton Oswalt's comedic style. If my friend enjoyed reflective childhood stories or tales of a struggling comedian, then I would definitely recommend it.
What I liked best about the story was Patton Oswalt's performance of the book; at times it seemed as if he was having a conversation with me while I listened. Oswalt's rapid-fire comedic style shows up immediately as he reads he introduction to the audiobook; this makes the book enjoyable to listen.
The book had me laughing in parts; there were others where mostly I was surprised by the author's honesty and clarity in his stories.
I'm a pop culture writer and editor living in San Francisco who commutes about half an hour with audio books five days a week. I go through a lot of audio books.
Patton Oswalt has been one of my favorite comedians for a long time, and I'm probably exactly the target audience he had in mind while writing this book (nerdy, literate, and into R.E.M.), so yeah it won me over. But clocking in 3 hrs, 31 min, this felt more like an extended comedy album than a book, especially since Patton narrates it.
Patton is really on top of his game when he's on the biographical stuff. All the material about growing up in his hometown is brilliant. He knows what matters, and why it's poignant, and he brings it home in a way that's just enormously disarming and even touching. He lost me a little bit on some of the comedy bits he throws between the chapters, but I sort of count those as bonus material anyway, so it didn't bother me much. Speaking of bonus material, getting Michael Stipe to read his own lyrics was a nice little touch for the audio book.
The book is a series of essays that sort of kind of all connect together, and I wish there was more to it. By the time it ends it feels like it was just getting started, so it would be great if there was about twice as much material.
There's some great extras in the audiobook not in the print copy. Oswalt frequently makes asides. Michael Stipe from REM does some of the reading. Also the songs in the "Songs for Hobos" chapter are recorded with music.
Songs for Hobos
I love his stand up, and this book is just as funny as he is on stage. He's not pressured to appease an audience here though, so he's able to get more in depth with certain things. He' s a very talented writer
Yes and I did.
It was a little short. I wanted more.
Listen to this book! You won't regret it. Excellent stories and interesting theories about mankind, presented by an extraordinarily hilarious human being.
Personally, it felt like Patton Oswalt was trying way too hard to make his life seem interesting. Attempting to spin the mundane into something someone might want to hear, and using every big word he could possibly think of. Wish I could get my money back on this one.
Laugh out loud in the cubicle funny!! I snort when I laugh and had to leave the cubi-farm to have a massive laugh/snort/cry fit in the hall!
For anyone who has listened to Patton's stand up this explains a lot from his days in Virginia to becoming a stand up comic on the road he has a fascinatingly funny story to tell. Thoroughly enjoyable with ups and downs but all heart.
His Grandma explaining the presents!
When he is describing getting schwag from MTV and juxaposes it with his Grandma. Also, standing up to the sleazy Canadian Club Owner! These two stituations are very endearing and give a depth to Patton. Does make sense why he would rather spend his money on famous chefs than drugs!
Micheal Stipe is awesome!! Some of the funniest parts are the footnotes he provides a very off-the-cuff style to it. This book is very well read, it is literally like sitting down for a cup of coffee with him and asking: So how did you get to be so funny?
Just hilarious. And in many places very affecting. Just well done from start to finish; Patton's performance really shines through in his material too.
Easily one of the best all around. Comedians are uniquely privileged in being able to take pretty much absolute control of their own readings, and Patton makes the most of it. Granted you have to refer to a PDF here and there, but that's more than made up for by things like a series of fully-orchestrated hobo ditties and a cavalcade of silly, silly accents.
The whole Zombie/Spaceship/Wasteland thing is a stunner, but going by what I remember most vividly, the bit where he described getting loaded with his underage buddies while plinking the (semi-willing) local skate-rats with pilfered airsoft guns was the standout scene for me.
All I can compare it to is his stand-up, but it's as good as that, the only major difference being the format let's him get away with (slightly) more conceptual humor than the usual live show might be able to support.
Definitely teared up here and there, again, see the titular chapter.
Pure gold for fans, comedy nerds and geeks in general, but also contains some fairly substantial nuggets for those more interested in the nuts and bolts of creative synthesis.