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Who Stole the Funny?: A Novel of Hollywoodby Robby Benson
Synopses & Reviews
A Hollywood insider draws from his four decades of experience to create a scathingly brilliant and caustically comedic bird's-eye view behind the scenes of comedy television.
A wickedly delicious roman-a-clef about the making of a sitcom called My Urban Buddies, this satirical romp of a novel portrays life on the other side of the television lens, hilariously sending up self-serious Hollywood stereotypes across the board.
Programmed-for-success director J. T. Baker has to bring an up-and-coming sitcom to fruition after its initial director shoots himself in the head with a nail gun. Comically annotated with helpful and enlightening Hollywood glossary terms ("Creative-type director: One who has no hope of working in this town again"; "Eccentric: Affecting a style of dress, coiffure, speech, mannerisms, etc., carefully calculated to give the impression of creative credibility"), Benson creates an exaggerated world of crazy writers; backstabbing executives, agents, and producers; foul-mouthed everyone-elses; and hardcore cynics — and the ridiculous inner monologues behind them.
"Drawing on his experience directing Friends, Benson offers in his debut a derivative parody of behind-the-scenes Los Angeles that fails to skewer any of its easy targets. Has-been sitcom director J.T. Baker, a 'passionate schmuck' in a self-imposed exile from Hollywood, is picked to helm the hit show I Love My Urban Buddies ('the biggest sitcom in eons') after his predecessor meets an unfortunate end via an unfaithful wife, a hot tub and a nail gun. Desperate for money and health insurance to cover his son's kidney dialysis treatment, J.T. accepts the assignment and flies to California. Upon his arrival, he clashes with Debbie, the 'voluptuous' sexpot network liaison; Lance, the underqualified studio exec; and the married terrors Stephanie and Marcus Pooley, the show's creators. J.T.'s only ally on the lot is his friend Asher Black, who helps J.T. survive Marcus's lecherous casting sessions, puerile assistant directors, an on-set pederast and a cast of babied egoists. Benson's flat, one-dimensional characters are hard to take seriously, and readers may have a hard time sympathizing with the long-winded J.T., especially after he anoints himself 'the Sergeant at Arms of the Moral Police.' Benson's background in the TV biz is apparent, but his roman clef doesn't pop. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Who Stole the Funny? benefits from Mr. Benson's deep knowledge of his subject matter....There are plenty of books on acting and directing, on semiotics, auteur theory and Stanislavsky's method. But not many are likely to present so many appalling, and reality-based, teachable moments." The Wall Street Journal
"[W]ith the exception of a few sparse moments, someone definitely 'stole the funny' from this featherweight roman-a-clef....Tinseltown characters with no glitter." Kirkus Reviews
"A former director on Friends, Robby Benson knows from funny — but his super-insidery tone in Who Stole the Funny? never lets us in on the joke. (Grade: C)" Entertainment Weekly
A Hollywood insider draws from his four decades of experience to create a scathingly brilliant and satirical bird's-eye view of life behind the scenes in comedy television.
A wickedly delicious roman–a–clef about the making of a sitcom called My Urban Buddies (aka Friends), this satirical romp answers the question for those who ever wondered what went on behind the scenes in the production of their favorite sit–com. Robby Benson can tell you, and does, in the novel WHO STOLE THE FUNNY, in which programmed–for–success director J.T. Baker has to bring an up–and–coming sitcom to fruition after its initial director shoots himself in the head with a nail gun. Thoughtfully annotated with helpful and enlightening Hollywood glossary terms, ("Creative–type director: One who has no hope of working in this town again"; "Eccentric: Affecting a style of dress, coiffure, speech, mannerisms, etc. carefully calculated to give the impression of creative credibility") WHO STOLE THE FUNNY takes place in an exaggerated world of crazy writers, backstabbing directors, foul–mouthed everyone–elses and hardcore cynics.
With fast–paced scenes, hilarious dialogue and the ridiculous inner monologues behind them, WHO STOLE THE FUNNY will make you think twice about what's going on behind every innocuous group of urban roommates you've ever fallen for on TGIF.
About the Author
Robby Benson, actor, writer, composer, and award-winning star of stage, screen, and television has also spent years behind the camera as the director of more than one hundred episodes of such hit sitcoms as Friends and Ellen, in addition to being a highly esteemed professor of film studies at New York University. He lives in both the Blue Ridge Mountains and New York City with his wife, singer Karla DeVito, and their two children.
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