Everybody Poops Genius Pieces, or, An Evening With Michael Showalter
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
1. The security lady was really harshing my mellow, but spotting downtown comic Todd Barry made me happy again 2: My view of the reading: sweaty.
My love/hate relationship with the Barnes & Noble continues. Was I stoked to see Michael Showalter (who I fell in love with after watching The State and Wet Hot American Summer, like, a million years ago)? Heck yeah.
Was I even more stoked he was going to be joined on-stage by singer-songwriter Neko Case (who I more recently fell in love with)? Of course!
Did I appreciate being shoved into the upper floor of the behemoth’s Union Square location with a thousand other sweaty people, where I’d have to lean against a metal pole for an hour and strain to hear the speakers? Uh, no.
1. Mike Wess, Philip Posen and Erica Cheung, writers studying at NYU. 2. Bobby Bloch, writer/reader/teacher, who icolor-coordinated with the book jacket.
All I have to say is: give those store guards a raise. I tried every trick in the book and still they wouldn’t let me anywhere near Michael Showalter or Neko Case to grab a picture, even when the hordes had dispersed. In the end I sweated it out in the back fifty with the rest of the hoi polloi, but for what it’s worth, even with bad conditions, the weird pairing, and the terrible acoustics, I still found both Showalter and Case so damn likeable that I actually enjoyed myself.
To begin with, Showalter gave me the title for this entry instantly. Everybody Poops Genius Pieces is what he was going to name his memoir when he decided it had to be “like A Million Little Pieces meets A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius meets Everybody Poops.” He continued, “I wanted a title that was profound and would change people’s lives, but that was harder, so I called it Mr. Funnypants instead,” though poop still seemed to be very much on his mind when he sat down to write this memoir. “I’m not from San Francisco,” he mused, “my parents aren’t divorced, I’ve never been to rehab, so I decided to stick to poop jokes.”
Case took a more serious tack when discussing her work (though, really, anyone would seem serious next to Showalter). “When I write a song, I have what I think is the greatest song in the world and I’ve covered every perspective in the world and then I try to make it smaller, smaller, and smaller. But I figure if there’s a good rock to build on, it’ll be okay.”
Showalter quipped, “I’m the opposite. I start small and then I just layer crap on top of it.” Did I mention poop was on his mind?
1. The closest I got to Showalter and Case. 2. Dusty Childers: Neko Case lover, Toronto hater! 3. Boldly wearing a skirt to Mr. Funnypants.
In the end, the event was pretty evenly split, serious and funny, sweet and angry, Case and Showalters, frustrating and awesome.
The crowd was about 50/50 as well. Dusty Childers, a Neko Case fan, said he was there because, “A boy that I fell in love with sang her songs to me. It lasted all summer and into the early fall. Goddamn Toronto. That’s where he had to move. Toronto.” Across the room, writer/reader/teacher Bobby Bloch came because he loved Michael Showalter. “When I was a camp counselor we would rush back to the cabin to watch Wet Hot American Summer. I just reveled in it,” he said. “I really wanted to see him.”
Both dudes looked really happy at the end of the night, so…Barnes & Noble, I reluctantly salute you.*
*If you missed Michael Showalter, you can catch him March 1st at BookCourt.
–Cassie Hay is finishing her MFA at Fairleigh Dickinson University and is a new contributor to Electric Dish.