(Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].)For those who don't know, in the years I was a creative writer myself (mostly in the 1990s), one of the scenes I spent a lot of time in was the poetry-slam one; indeed, the Chicago slam community in the '90s was the largest on the planet at the time, due mostly to the slam actually being invented here by a guy named Marc Smith (at a bar called the Green Mill, which believe it or not is just four blocks from where I live). And as part of being involved with the slam community back then, I also ended up getting involved a little with the comedy scene as well; and that's because, for those who don't know, the arts here in Chicago tend to intermix between disciplines a lot more than in many other cities. Steppenwolf Traffic series, in which the famed theatre company invites a series of writers, musicians, dancers, performance artists and others to collaborate on cutting-edge projects, which are then presented for live audiences in the smaller second space of the Steppenwolf complex at North and Halsted.)You see, the stand-up comedians here in Chicago (the ones who haven't moved to LA or New York, that is) tend to be more literary than a lot of the others, more cutting-edge, and this is why certain slam poets like myself tended to do well in those venues back then, as well as certain comedians doing well in traditional poetry venues. And thus it was that I became friends with a whole group of comedians back in the '90s, which I just found such a strange and fascinating experience; because really, just about every comedian I've met now in life seems to have such an odd combination of personality traits, a kind of overwhelming pathos about the world that hides just underneath that incessant drive to make people laugh. The more one studies comedy and what exactly comedians do, the more one realizes just how much anger and blackness there is at the core of the creative process, and how the best comedians are able to take this burning anger and turn it into something that makes the general public guffaw and applaud and in general have a light and entertaining evening. And believe me, if you ever want an interesting evening, go out drinking sometime with someone who can pull something like that off.It's what I kept thinking about, to tell you the truth, while reading through Chicago comedian Ian Coburn's first full-length book, the comedically tragic faux-real-faux dating guide God Is a Woman, which (if I have my story right) is also the first book from new Chicago basement press Firefly Glow. Because let's just put the cards on the table right away: the book is funny, and it's offensive, and it's thought-provoking, and it's offensive, and did I mention that it has the possibility of really offending a certain amount of you out there, especially of the female persuasion? Because ultimately, what this book is "about" is actually...Dave
One of the funniest books I've ever read!Alexa
the worst book I have ever read in my life. I bought it by mistake, but decided to give it a try - huge mistake! I cannot understand how could a comedian write something so not funny... If you are a man you'll be depressed, if you're a woman you'll consider trying girls! A book disaster....Sunday
Hilarious and insightful. Great book!Marsha
Like Neil Strauss's The Game only with slightly more attention to a life goal (rather than merely scoring with women), Mr. Coburn details his life on the comedy circuit. He also outlines his attempts to get sex with women: his successes, close calls, near-misses and narrow brushes with psychotic women, oversized boyfriends and the cops. As he navigates his way across the country and in and out of the beds of various females, he also peppers his memoirs with advice about getting women, dealing with their moods, figuring out what's going on in their minds and when to cut loose and go on to the next conquest when the previous one doesn't work out to his advantage.While Mr. Coburn tries to come off as a nice guy and a man who's honest about what he wants (as compared to the other jerks who lie simply to score), the book's tone slowly goes from being jocular to bitter. His facile theory about God being a woman (out to make men unhappy, of course, and to destroy other women) becomes hostile digs against this supposed deity. He even trots out the B word. What a surprise.In the course of learning to get women (he talks about dating when he merely means sex), he abandons being a "good guy" or being friends with women. He learns what other guys learn, i.e., that women likes jerks. The main difference is that Mr. Coburn explains why. In between chapters, he provides "quickies"--short encapsulations about his observations of women, the dating scene and his tips for dealing with either. He makes some rather good points but the book's humor falls flatter and flatter as he descends into the depths of sordid behavior. When he finally realizes he's become a jerk--no better than the ones he denigrates--it's a case of too little, too late. In the end, he brutally states that dating is a game. That's all it is and we'd better accept it. If we don't want to play, then we must not date. A rather sour punchline to a tired and tiresome joke. For a book about a comedian, this simply isn't very funny.