Review of “What I’d Say to the Martians” by Jack Handey

Jack Handey’s What I’d Say to the Martians and Other Veiled Threats is easily the funniest book I’ve read in recent memory. If you’re familiar with Deep Thoughts or Fuzzy Memories from Saturday Night Live, you may be surprised to learn that Jack Handey is an actual guy who writes like that normally.

You’ll find this collection of essays, short stories, and sketches funny throughout if you like his particular style of humor, which I do. You’ll appreciate the helpful asides in “My Nature Documentary”:

Show monkey finding binoculars. Monkey learns how to use binoculars. (Have plenty of film, because this may take a long time.) Monkey climbs up tree and scans horizon. We see his point of view, which finally focuses on yes, the giraffe! He screams (BB pellet) with joy.

Or the view of self presented in “How I Want to Be Remembered”:

According to our scientists, with their electronic soul trackers, Jack is in Heaven now. And not just regular Heaven, which any jerk can get in to, but special secret Heaven that even some angels don’t know about.

There’s much to be learned about management from his essay on “The Respect of the Men”:

You don’t get the respect of the men right away. You can try, by getting down in the dirt and begging them for it, or by kissing their boots, or by doing your funny cowboy dance for them. But trust me, these are not going to work.

I especially liked the science-ish article on “The Animals Around Us”:

Or consider even smaller animals, which live unnoticed among the hairs of our private regions. They are called crabs. No, don’t worry, they aren’t actual crabs. And they certainly aren’t large enough to eat, unless you could somehow get thousands of them. But they are with us, year after year.

My favorite nugget is entitled “Attila the Hun’s Greatest Speech,” which is introduced as the source for many of the most famous orations in history and consists entirely of famous lines interspersed with motivational statements to the assembled Huns like “Caesar, tear down this wall! Or at least open the gates and we’ll tear it down for you.”

I could go on and on selecting bits from this short but hilarious work, but I’m pretty sure that I’d run afoul of copyright soon. I found myself guffawing on more than one occasion; if these quotes or his earlier work tickled your funny bone, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

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