The Funny Thing Is
Author: Ellen Degeneres
Published By: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I picked up the book The Funny Thing Is… by Ellen Degeneres, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m a big fan of hers, from her stand-up routines to her television shows, I’ve never been disappointed by her style of comedy. I know that she writes her own material, but quite a bit of her stand-up routine relies on visuals – facial expressions, acting things out, etc. - and I wondered if certain jokes would come over as well in book format as they do visually.
The description of The Funny Thing Is… on the back cover of the book gave me some hint that the trademark Ellen Degeneres wit was in full force. It states that the book contains, among other things, “innovative features including: more than 50,000 simple, short words arranged in sentences that form paragraphs…how to handle seating arrangements for a Sunday brunch with Paula Abdul, Diane Sawyer, and Eminem…all twenty-six letters of the alphabet.” Now, if the book included Ellen’s trademark ramblings, things would be complete.
The Funny Thing Is… was written in the midst of Ellen Degeneres’ Here and Now tour. Thus, much of the material used on the tour can be found in the book. I was quite happy to discover that the material was just as funny in literary format as it was when I watched her Here and Now DVD, filmed for HBO at the Beacon Theater in New York City. Ellen’s trademark ramblings are present in every chapter…well, almost every chapter. There is one chapter that contains only one sentence, but you’d have to see it to believe it.
True to the book’s description, Ellen offers up many helpful tips, such as what to do in embarrassing situations, such as forgetting someone’s name, losing yourself in the middle of a conversation, or accidentally flipping off John Travolta. Just when I though that my favorite chapter would be the Silence is Golden - a discussion about Ellen’s search for a place to meditate that ends up with Ellen pulled over on the side of the road, trying to put air back into a blow up doll, half naked, with a cop glaring at her – I come across It’s Just an Expression. How many times have you heard an expression that just made you want to punch the person who uttered it. Ellen goes so far as to translate some of them. For example, God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle…unless God’s in on it and doesn’t like you either. She goes on to explain to her readers just how silly some of these expressions are, such as “He (or she) wouldn’t hurt a fly.” – “Everyone hates flies. Someone realized the hatred of flies is so universal that they actually came up with a device to kill them.” Ellen even includes a commentary on horrible fashion trends and how we only realize they are horrible long after they are over. No topic escapes the trademark ramblings and wit of Ellen Degeneres as she takes on dieting, “smartishness”, making life count, book naming and more.
I found myself laughing non-stop, unable to put the book down. Friends who passed and asked what I was laughing at soon found that they, too, were laughing as I read them excerpts from the book. If you are in need of a little levity and a great deal of fun, pick up The Funny Thing Is… by Ellen Degeneres. You’ll be smiling by page two and doubled over laughing by the end of the second bonus chapter!