Cover of This Will Be Funny Someday. The title written on a banana peel

About the Book

Title: This Will Be Funny Someday
Published: 2021

Cover Story: Man Fall Down…
Drinking Buddy: Two Drink Minimum
MPAA Rating: PG (language, alcohol, marijuana, some crude humor)
Talky Talk: Drunken Heckler
Bonus Factor: Stand Up Comedy
Anti-Bonus Factor: Emotional Abuse
Bromance Status: Open Mike Night

Cover Story: Man Fall Down…

Funny!

Personally, I like minimalist covers like this. Classic slapstick, no giant teen faces, no cartoons of scenes that didn’t happen.

The Deal:

Izzy has a good life. A handsome boyfriend, wealthy parents, friends (well, the girlfriends of her boyfriend’s buddies)…life should be good. Except….everyone in her family ignores her and talks over her. She can’t make herself heard in class. She has no one to talk to. And her boyfriend…well, he can be intense. He has very specific ideas about the way a girlfriend is supposed to behave. When they disagree, he makes her feel so guilty, she ends up apologizing. It’s almost as if she’s not even there.

One afternoon, Izzy wanders into a comedy club, and, due to a highly improbable misunderstanding, ends up signing up to do a set. And…she likes it. She’s good at it. She befriends a young, female comedian named Mo. She starts polishing her act. She makes people laugh.

The problem is, she can’t let anyone know about this. Her parents would never understand. And Mo and her friends are under the impression that Mo is a college student, rather than a high school junior. Plus if her boyfriend Alex ever found out she was embarassing him like this…Izzy finds herself living a secret other life.

Drinking Buddy: Two Drink Minimum

Two pints of beer cheersing

I wanted to like Izzy, because, quite frankly, no one else did. Within two pages of meeting Alex, I thought ‘ah, he’s the emotionally abusive boyfriend.’ The characters were quite stock: the estranged friend who tried to warn her, the lesbian bestie, the surly older sister with a heart of gold, the hip teacher, the emotionally distant mother, etc. I could really empathize with Izzy, but she was kind of boring and underdeveloped. She has an auditory condition that makes it difficult for her to hear in crowded rooms, but this seemed to come and go whenever convenient, and could easily have been dropped from the novel. She absolutely obsesses that some guy in her class acted stupid during a group presentation, but doesn’t seem to notice her new friends treat her just as shabbily. She’s a botanist, but her plants just serve as an obvious regrowth metaphor. There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, but in a book about a stand-up comedian, I wasn’t entertained.

MPAA Rating: PG (language, alcohol, marijuana, some crude humor)

Alex was such a cartoonish villain that I kept waiting for an anvil to fall on his head. Fortunately, there was no nerdy, handsome guy (or girl) waiting in the wings. Other than that, this was a low intensity book. Since Alex was never physically abusive, it was just a matter of sitting around waiting for Izzy to come to her senses. And she does this with no help from anyone. Even her old friend, Naomi, was super judgey.

Talky Talk: Drunken Heckler

The thing is, if you’re going to write a book about a stand-up comedian, by default, you have to develop a comedy routine. And unfortunately, Izzy just is plain not funny. Her act consists of plithy observations about life, but in a way more suited to a magazine article or blog, rather than standing in front of dozens of semi-sober people expecting to laugh. I never even smiled at any of her jokes.

On top of that, everything in this book about comedy seemed to be a heavy-handed guilt trip.

Naomi: Your boyfriend treats you badly? Told ya so!

Older sister: I’m sorry you feel I talk over you, but sometimes I just feel like the world talks over me and it’s all I can do to survive…

Mother: Sorry I’ve been blowing you off, but I’m so busy working as a lawyer in a man’s world where I’m constantly disrespected because of my gender.

Teacher: Don’t you just love Shakespeare? Of course, there’s blatant antisemitism in ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ which the Nazis used to to further their agenda.

Fellow comedian: Congrats on your big break, but you realize the only reason someone booked you is because you’re pretty and blonde. God forbid they’d book a person of color. You know, the entire history of stand up is one of exclusionism and racism….

Club owner: I did you a favor. Now I expect you to do something for me…

Mo: You lied to us about your age? You’re dead to us. Dead!

I started this book expecting to laugh, and ended up with a crippling sense of futility and shame. Which is really too bad, because the author’s previous two books were laugh-out-loud funny.

Bonus Factor: Stand Up Comedy

a woman's laughing mouth

So it’s comedy, right? You stand up, tell a few jokes, everyone laughs, what could be easier? Except, you know, everything. What do you do when you lose your place? When a heckler starts in on you? When the audience just doesn’t laugh? Izzy, who’s used to existing in the shadows, has suddenly volunteered for the limelight. Can she prove to the world she deserves to be the center of attention?

Anti-Bonus Factor: Emotional Abuse

Clenched fist pounding into a table

Alex is handsome and popular, and Izzy is lucky to have him. Okay, maybe he was the one who deleted Naomi’s number from her phone. Maybe every time they have a fight, he retcons the situation until it was Izzy who got upset over nothing. Maybe he constantly checks in on her, looks at her phone, and has to give his permission before Izzy can try something new. Maybe once he pretended like was going to push her in front of a train…

As Izzy develops her newfound confidence, she learns you’re not supposed to actively fear your boyfriend.

Bromance Status: Open Mike Night

Like stand up comedy, this book was kind of hit and miss. It was no George Carlin, but it was no Gallagher either.

Literary Matchmaking

Crying Laughing

Lance Rubin’s Crying Laughing is about another aspiring comedian.

Bitter End

Bitter End, by Jennifer Brown, also deals with a toxic boyfriend.

Heretics Anonymous

Heretics Anonymous is the author’s much funnier earlier work.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free ARC from the publisher, but no money nor orchids. This Will Be Funny Someday is available now.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.