Friday, 26 October 2012

Things Snowball by Rich Hall (4/5)

The back says: ‘America is like a beauty contestant. It’s gorgeous until it opens its mouth.’

From the similarities between US gun laws and British drinking hours, to what cryptic crosswords really tell us about the British psyche, American in London Rich Hall casts a keen eye on the lunatic contradictions and weird marvels of his native and adoptive homelands in this hilarious book.

I say: I have been in love with Rich Hall since I first saw him on QI and decided therefore to buy his books (and see him live in February – weee) and I am so glad I did. Some comedians are funny on stage but not as funny on paper, but because Hall has such a dark and terse wit it translates well in both mediums.

Well, I love it in both mediums (I know some people just don’t get him).

Anyway, this book is full of anecdotes and observations about the US and Britain and I laughed out loud almost the entire time. When you see Hall on QI or when he’s doing his stand-up routine he seems like a grumpy old man (Moe in The Simpsons was based on him) but when I read this he comes across as very intelligent and eloquent. I realise that this says more about my prejudices than it does Hall, but I was expecting some random cultural jokes mixed with a little nonsense, but he talks about his grandparents, amongst other things, with such warmth and humility it was a welcome surprise to me.

I have highlighted a lot of funny quotes and I know that this will be the type of book that I’ll turn to when I need a laugh.
“They say you have to sell your soul to the Devil to really play the Blues. This I did, though several days later the Devil returned and tried to give it back.

‘I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time,’ he announced. ‘Your soul is worthless.’ I pointed out that the transaction, which took place at a crossroads somewhere in Mississippi (now the site of a brand new Walmart), was binding. He claimed he was entitled to a five-day ‘cooling off period’. Fine. If fame has eluded me, there’s your reason. My advice to any would-be Bluesman is try to get something in writing from the Devil.” – p 37-38

That’s from a short story about a Bluesman that takes the most absurd turns.

Needless to say, this book has made me fall deeper in love with Hall. I think one of my favourite stories is about what happened to him on 9-11-11. It’s a very serious subject, and a part of me felt bad for laughing at his antics, but another understood that it is through humour we can deal with things.

So yeah, Rich Hall for president king everything.

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