I made it out of my nephew's Bar Mitzvah physically alive but emotionally annihilated. Good times. Nothing like seeing the family to re-introduce you to all the things you’ve been running from in yourself. Hands on, man.
I’ll be at Hilarities in Cleveland this weekend if you are around.
My book ‘Attempting Normal’ comes out in paperback tomorrow. I’m excited about it. It’s a new cover. I like it. I didn’t love the hardback cover but I thought it was fine. I had accepted it. Then I interviewed David Sedaris. He said that when I do the paperback I should make sure they re-think the cover. He loved the book. It was very flattering. He thought the cover of the hardback was too silly. He thought it looked like a comic’s book but it didn’t read like a comic’s book. There are certain expectations out of comic’s memoirs and he thought the essays in my book were more writerly. He thought it was a writer's book and not a comic’s book and that the cover misrepresented it. Again, I was very excited that he felt that way about my book.
Needless to say my editor heard the Sedaris interview and took the discussion to heart. Because in publishing the words of David Sedaris go a long way—to the bank and also in defining the modern comic memoir and how it is presented. Without my knowledge I assume work was feverishly underway at my publisher's to honor the request and suggestion of David Sedaris in reference to my cover. Obviously a cover needs to be eye catching. That is essential but for that cover to relate to and honor the contents of the book is tricky. Some would say unimportant. Once the customer makes the buy it’s really on them. Again, the word of Sedaris isn’t taken lightly. So, after months of what I imagine was brainstorming and sketching and deep thought about how to present my book as something literary as opposed to a silly book written by a stand up comic I was sent the first design and I can only say that when I opened the email and saw this I was dumbfounded and in awe.
I thought it was a practical joke. Even though I didn’t know my editor to be a joker or prankster in any way I thought this was his first attempt and it was a doozy. Then I figured out that the artwork was sent to me in earnest. This was where they went with David’s advice. This was my more literary cover. When I realized that this was the real proposal for the artwork I lost my shit a bit. This is what I wrote to my editor:
“I'll be honest with you. When I first saw the cover I really thought you were making some kind of joke. Like it was a joke cover. That was my first gut reaction. After what Sedaris said publicly about it not coming off like a 'joke' book or a 'comedian' book this is what you guys came up with? Wow.
It's your product. You sell it how you want. I am not on board with this unless someone is really good at persuasion. But, again, it's your product. You guys know how to sell things, right?
I couldn’t help myself. I had to send the highly anticipated cover art to Sedaris. It was on his suggestion that they changed it. This is what I wrote to him with the above art attached:
Thank you so much for continuing to be so supportive of my work. I appreciate it.
Since you inspired some re-thinking regarding my cover. I really thought you should see this.
P.S. There is no fucking way this will be the cover.”
This is what he wrote back:
I'm happy to hear that won't be the cover. Too much blue!
I laughed and laughed. What a beautiful comic beat. He is a true fucking genius of wit. Seriously. So, after all was said and done this is the new paperback cover. I love it.
On Monday's show one of my oldest friends in comedy, Todd Barry, talks to me about the days when neither of us could get on stage and about his new special, ‘Crowd Work.' It was great seeing him. It had been a while since we hung out. On Thursday the truly hilarious Karen Kilgariff talks about her journey through standup and writing for the original Ellen show and now musical comedy. She also performs a couple of her genius songs. Great shows this week.