Book Review – Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Owalt
Patton Oswalt is one of my favorite working standup comedians. He’s one of the few I haven’t had a chance to see live but I hope to remedy that when he manages to drag his shebs down to Houston for a show. I think that Mr. Oswalt is one of the most refreshingly honest comedians working the stage these days, with Dave Attel, Louis C.K. and a few others riding alongside him like a sort of comedic Magnificent Seven, saying the things nobody wants to but doing it anyway.
So when I heard he was putting out a book I obviously had to pick it up. I felt I owed it to him in a sort of gesture showing that the time he spent putting this together was worth it in the end. So if nothing else he can feel validated that someone read his book and felt that it was worth doing so. Though partially I must admit that reading this is my penance for reading Olivia Munn’s book last year because after seeing a few episodes of Perfect Couples on NBC I have come to be certain that she is a serpent from the depths of hell sent forth to vex me in between good shows on Thursday night. I’m sure she’s a lovely person and if she’d like to come to Houston and spend a night on the town convincing me that she is not a derivative of Satan’s plan I would love to accompany for a few hours.
Anyhow, Patton’s book. I guess I should talk about it insofar as how it works as an actual entity shouldn’t I? I think I need to clear up that this is a biography in almost no way whatsoever. This is a disjointed standup act cobbled together and thrown in between the covers. The structure doesn’t seem to follow any narrative pattern and there are whole chapters thrown in that are just comedic musings on general themes that do seem a bit awkward at times but their placement makes the comedic gems contained within pack more of a surprise punch because of their ability to slice through your confusion and make the guy sitting next to you wonder why you’ve suddenly starting chuckling like a fool when you were previously looking at your book the way that Sarah Palin looks at a monosyllabic word.
The best parts of the book are truly found in the biographical sections and I can’t help but wish there were more of them in the book. The people who populate Patton’s world are like frightening creatures pulled from some dystopian indie film and yet somehow more realistic and sad than they have any right to be. Patton’s story about his time spent in Canada doing standup in a suburb of Vancouver which mirrors a sort of dark purgatory that you wouldn’t wish upon one of your enemies is simultaneously infuriating and hilarious. His chapter explaining his theories on the categorization of man into either the Zombie, Spaceship or Wasteland niche groups is oddly insightful considering the sort of madness that precedes it.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever looked at someone on the street and felt a twinge of anger for no discernible reason but had their gut instinct rewarded when that person turned out to be an animal abuser who also owns more than one Nickelback album. This is a book for the rightfully frustrated. I count myself among that number.