[I intended to write a new Cannon Corner today, but I had shit to do, so I didn’t get a chance to watch any Cannon films over the weekend. Let’s say it’ll happen next week!]
I cannot express in words my love for Albert Brooks. For Defending Your Life alone, he sits high on my pantheon of comedy gods, just below Woody Allen and George Carlin. But he also created Comedy Plus One, Lost in America, Real Life, Mother, Modern Romance, postmodern standup (a precursor to the alt-comedy of today, only funny), and even Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. That last is the shakiest entry on his list of accomplishments, but give it a chance. It goes down more smoothly if you understand how Brooks’s standup works, but even without that knowledge, it has a ton of genuine, big laughs.
When it was announced, after what many (including me) assumed was unofficial retirement from the cinematic auteur game, his first-ever novel would be published, I got excited. Not many filmmakers can make that transition (ever read Ethan Coen’s fiction?), but I figured Brooks would be a natural fit. Like Woody Allen, his films come across like works of the hyper-literate (he’s just not as insecure and show-offy about it as Allen); his comedy comes mainly from deconstructing conventions and contemplating the human condition. Plus, he knows how to construct a joke, which makes it easier to bear the possibility of slogging through crappy writing.
An effusive New York Times review and compelling Adam Carolla interview had me salivating for it. I did something I’ve never done before: preordered a book at a reasonably high price.