Tuesday night I was lucky enough to attend a reading of John Hodgman’s newest volume of fake truths entitled, More Information Than You Require. For the Chicago leg of his book tour, John was joined by political cartoonist David Rees
John opened the night’s festivities by introducing the crowd to Malört, a type of liqueur that is apparently only available in Chicago. Soon after that he introduced David Rees, who was there to promote a collection of his comic strip entitled “Get Your War On”. I was a little leery of seeing a cartoonist promoting a collection of political comic strips (each one has something to do with President Bush’s “war on terror”) at first, but I spent the entire nine minutes of his presentation laughing until my face hurt. David uses very mundane clip art to illustrate his comics, which are then filled with very passionate views and observations about the actions of our government, and sweetened with a heavy sprinkling of profane language. He presented each panel on an overhead projector in a “rapid fire” manner, hardly allowing time for applause or for the laughter to die down in between. I found it to be a highly effective presentation overall.
The roughly two hour time span after that was filled with John Hodgman’s well-honed dry wit and bold-faced lies. He covered a wide array of subjects including: how to handle an infestation of Scottish terriers in your home, the origins of Democracy (derived from the Greek word meaning “rule by demons”), the secret inner workings of the Electoral College, and how to become a famous minor television personality. It will never cease to amaze me how someone can be so condescending and almost mean, yet remain likeable and funny.
John wrapped up the show by taking questions from the audience. He did this via three walkie-talkies. One circulated the audience, one was held near a microphone by an audience member, and John held the other. After the questions were over, everyone headed out into the lobby to buy books from David and John and to line up for autographs. John was gracious enough to sign my copy of More Information Than You Require and The Areas of my Expertise. All in all, I’d say going to this reading was the most fun I have had in ages (especially considering it was free). John summed it up best on his blog by saying: “LAST NIGHT AT SECOND CITY was like a bottle of Malort: at first bitter, frightening, and then giddy and strange and wonderful.”