Humor by Michael Showalter

I am writing this column from the road while promoting my new book, "Mr. Funny Pants." THESE WORDS, literally those last two words, the ones in caps, and THESE WORDS, too, are being written while I sit here in the San Francisco airport en route to Los Angeles. My computer is plugged into a power station (not the '80s supergroup, but an actual power station).

Before San Francisco, I was in San Diego. Before that were Philly, D.C., New York, and Boston. Next stop: LA, then Portland, Seattle, Omaha, Minneapolis, Chicago . . . exhale . . . inhale . . . Toronto, Chapel Hill, Atlanta, then, ah, home! To my wife, my cats, my sofa, my coffee shop, my friends!

It's been a great experience so far. Everywhere I've been, folks have treated me with great kindness and hospitality. I keep forgetting that in general, people are really nice. When you live in New York City, you sort of forget that. Not that New Yorkers aren't nice, they are -- but just . . . in their own way. Ahem. Anyone who's ever been there, I think you know what I mean.

Some of the highlights of life on the road so far (in no particular order):

1. I get to eat at McDonald's with total impunity.

2. I get to eat at Burger King with total impunity.

3. I get to wear the same pair of socks three days in a row.

The book I wrote is a memoir of sorts. When I first started it, I had lofty aspirations of writing a profound and life-changing autobiography for my readers. I saw it as sort of a cross between "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" meets "Everything is Illuminated" meets "A Million Little Pieces" meets "Barrel Fever" meets, for my young readers, "Everyone Poops."

I wanted to call it "Everyone Poops Genius Pieces." My editor balked at that. Out of frustration and totally as a joke, I said, "Fine! Then how about we just call it 'Mr. Funny Pants.'" I was being sarcastic! They loved it.

Writing a full-length book was no easy task. Early in the process of drafting my profound and life-changing memoir, I had a series of very troubling revelations:

1. I'm easily distracted by ANYTHING: subtle changes in room temperature; any form of noise; the urge to stretch. The majority of my days are spent taking "writing breaks." This doesn't help someone trying to complete an important and noteworthy book.

2. Perhaps more important, as I really don't have anything interesting to say about my life, this makes writing a profound and life-changing memoir quite problematic. I think I'm just a pretty normal guy. I mean, I guess could I write a full-length memoir about my ho-hum existence?

Chapter 1: My Shoes and Why I Like Them

Chapter 2: Television, I Watch It

Chapter 3: Sleeping is Great, I do it Every Day

3. By far the most troubling revelation: I do not know how to write a book! I've never done this before. What's my process? What's my "voice"? What's a book?!

After several months of creative futility, I decided that, instead of writing my book, I'd start writing about my inability to write my book and see if that didn't help me with my writing. Strangely enough, it did. The end result is a memoir about writing a memoir. In effect, I wrote over 250 pages about writers block. That must be some sort of accomplishment. This also raises a very important question: Do you still have writers block if you're writing about having writers block? I don't know and I may never know.

Well, I hear them calling my number: "Rows 5 million through 10 million may now board the plane." Here I go: Another city, another bookstore, another hamburger eaten with impunity.

Michael Showalter is the guy behind the hit comedy film "Wet Hot American Summer," as well as "The Michael Showalter Showalter" and numerous comedy productions.

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - Life on the Road

Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services