I wasn’t always professionally funny. Growing up, I was quick to crack jokes and was something of the class cut-up, but I never had any aspirations of doing anything with it. I went to Penn to study business and got a job on Wall Street right after graduation. It wasn’t until 2002, when I was 23 years old, that I tried stand-up for the first time. I fell in love and have been writing and performing ever since.
For me, it’s hard not to be funny. And I don’t mean to be cocky. I just mean that my default mode is to make light of a situation, no matter how grave it is. I just think I get my point across best with humor. Plus, no girl ever says, “I’m looking for a really serious guy.” They want someone who can make them laugh. That’s just added incentive.
When I set out to write Lexapros and Cons, I didn’t intentionally try to write a “funny” book. But I did know that Chuck Taylor was going to get himself into some pretty sticky situations, and that it would be fun trying to extricate him from them. Chuck never says the right thing and very rarely even thinks the right thing, and that’s probably because he speaks and talks kinda like me. He’s not trying to be funny. He’s just sort of off. And that’s what ultimately endears him to Amy, which may be some measure of wish fulfillment on my part: that some beautiful girl is going to think I’m hilarious and fall for me. Hey, a guy can dream.
A lot of people have told me that many YA books are very dark or paranormal, or dark and paranormal and therefore it’s refreshing to read a more comedic story like Lexapros and Cons. The truth is, I actually think that the trials and tribulations that Chuck goes through in the course of dealing with his OCD are pretty dark. It’s just that Chuck’s reactions (and the reactions of his classmates) are so outrageous that it kind of took the edge away. I chalk that up to happy coincidence.
Being a comedian was tremendous training for writing Lexapros. It is much, much easier to make someone laugh when you’re telling them a story in person than it is to get them to laugh from reading something you’ve written. But I think all my experience on stage has translated to the page. The key is misdirection, which is basically making the audience think you’re going to say one thing, and then saying something else instead. In the conversations between Chuck and his best friend Steve in the book, there is a lot of misdirection. They go off on some unexpected and, hopefully, hilarious tangents. That tendency is right out of my stand-up act.
The beauty of comedy is that it is often universal. I think that teens will enjoy Lexapros not simply because it’s targeted to them, but because it’s just funny in general. Teens have a pretty sophisticated sense of humor, probably more so than they are given credit for, but I imagine their parents will get just as much of kick out of the book as they do. At least I hope so, because I really don’t want to go back to getting paid not to be funny.
Many thanks to Aaron for stopping by today on his very release day! Be sure and check him out on Twitter @aaronkaro. And thanks, also, to the good folks at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for offering up a copy of Lexapros and Cons for a giveaway!
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