Friday, September 9, 2011

The Slacker Confessions - True Comedic Stories From My Decade of Dumb Jobs

By Tommy Campbell

This is the newest Kindle edition of a paperback that was originally published in 2002.

Genre: Humor, Non-fiction

AvailableAmazon and Kindle 

Rating: R.P. McMurphy

I had some issues with this book immediately with the title. I understand that Tommy and/or his publisher is trying to be cute with the alliteration but for some reason it bugged me. As I began to read the"True Comedic Stories" I noticed his "Decade"  was spent mostly in restaurants and kitchens. And he begins to explain to us how hard he worked in those kitchens. And after reading Kitchen Confidential, as well as having my own stints in restaurants, I know its hard fucking work in the Restaurant Biz.  So, given that, even the part of the title, "Slacker" was quite inappropriate considering. 

That's not to say I don't like stories about kitchen and restaurants. There is such a ridiculous amout of sex, drugs and debauchery in that industry that to call it anything less then fascinating would be an injustice. Tommy did tell us about his jobs outside the Restaurant Biz, and in those instances he wasn't as much a slacker as he was careless and irresponsible. So again my OCD if flaring over this title and how, to me, it's not describing the book accurately at ALL!

I have no idea why this drove me batshit, but ti did. I'll leave it to you to decide if this is unreasonable of me.

BUT! I didn't demote Tommy's book from a Biff to a R.P. McMurphy, over the title. Oh No. I had a whole other series of Literary OCD fits. This time it actually had something to do with the writing!
I thought the very first story was decently funny. Tommy talks about his first job at a pizza place and how he got stoned for the first time at fourteen. Now, you know that stoner buddy you have? Who tells you these "funny" stories about what he does when he's stoned? And you keep waiting for the punchline and it finally comes but you're like, "Uh?" Because the whole time he was telling you how funny the whole thing was? And he's the only one who thought it was funny? Because he was High?
That is this first story. 

I kind of began to dread reading the rest of the book. 

Thankfully, the stories got progressively better and more interesting throughout the book. 

But again, every time he was explaining a prank or an antic he chimed in with, "It was so funny", "Then we were laughing", "You couldn't help but laugh". Oh God make him stop telling me the joke is funny. "In it's own right, it is kind of funny" Really Tom? Is it?  Isn't that why you decided to write a fucking Book about it! Stop telling me how FUCKING FUNNY the story is and tell me the Goddamn Story!!

Oh GOD! It was in  nearly every story.  Some line about how they were laughing, or how funny it was. It drove me crazy! I was thinking put down the bong Tommy! I get it! You think its funny! 
I would be getting into the story and then he'd hit me with, "It was so funny." Gauh! For Christ Sake Tommy!

To make matters worse, Tom is in real life, a Comedian. I don't even what to know what his stand-up is like. "... and then, and this was so funny, he spilled the milk! HA! I laughed so hard!" 

Apparently he is quite successful in England. Go Figure!

Besides the fact that he felt the need to pre-curse every joke with his announcement of its funniness, the stories themselves are in fact quite funny. And Tommy doesn't do this as much about halfway through the book. And there were a few moments that I did in fact laugh out loud. There were some where I didn't laugh at all, but that's because my heartstrings were pulled and reality is brought back into the realm for a moment. As I mentioned earlier, drugs are a near staple in the world of kitchens; and the story Map of Europe goes into the real problems this teenager is dealing with in the world of  the love-able scumbags we call cooks.

My only other major criticism on the writing was every story felt cut short. I wanted more from him. He gets going and I got pulled into these stories and then SMACK! They end. At the very core, its good writing and good story telling. The characters are colorful and well painted to set up the scene well. The stories are unique and interesting. But I  continually felt short changed. 

He could have described more about himself, the time period, the Town!  At the very end of the book, he says Toronto, once!  Instead using "Downtown". Downtown where? I had to use my Sherlock Holmes deduction skills by Goolgling Tommy up and finding an interview with him on a Canadian TV station to figure that out. And still I didn't know if he was in Toronto or Vancouver or some po-dunk town, until he told a story saying that he went to Vancouver. For the LOVE of God don't make your reader have to guess what city the ENTIRE book takes place in! I know you want to disguise businesses, but disguising the city just takes away form the imagery I could have been having during all that time I was trying to guess which "downtown" he was talking about.

Ugh! I feel like I'm ripping this guy apart. So let me do this instead. 
I give the first half of the book an R.P. McMurphy and the second half a Lady Chablis.
Because the second half was much better. It was funnier. It was much more well written and I found myself stopped much less by irritation. I laughed out loud more during the second half. He also goes more into his antics instead of telling us about other peoples pranks that he laughed at, which allowed for me to connect with him on a different level, a more personal level. 

Would I suggest this book? Yeah. Would I suggest skipping the first half? No. Because I bet most people wouldn't have noticed the joke killing funny annoucements. Or maybe they would. But I bet because I mentioned it, you will most certainly notice it now!

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