Dark advice book features both humorous, terrible writing

Cover: “Care to Make Love in That Gross Little Space Between Cars?”

By Joshua Madden
A&E Editor

With a line-up of comedians including Bob Saget, Judd Apatow, Patton Oswalt and Lisa Lampanelli writing for the book “Care to Make Love in That Gross Little Space Between Cars?,” you would think that it would have to be funny.The problem is, while the book is indeed funny in parts, it’s uneven at best. It certainly doesn’t live up to the high expectations that its list of contributors would help to engender.

“Care to Make Love in That Gross Little Space Between Cars?” is the follow-up book to the similar “You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You.” Both books are put together by “Believer” magazine, and they are based on the concept developed in its “Sedaratives” column. The “Sedaratives” column is an advice column in which people send in (usually) non-serious questions and they receive (almost always) non-serious answers.

This book follows that satirical tone by inviting comedians of all stripes — famous and unfamous — to answer a few questions each. The very format of the book almost necessitates that it will be uneven in its delivery. One author might be hilarious, but just a few pages later — once they’re done answering their few questions — you’re on to a new comedian who is just not as funny.

Let me be clear here: I would absolutely recommend this book for several reasons, most notably that when it has actually found the right tone, it’s truly funny. Anthony Jeselnik’s section, for example, is probably one of the funniest few pages I’ve read all year. Bob Saget does a terrific job as well. This book can be genuinely funny, and it’s worth reading the more mediocre parts to get to the rest.

Also, it is a quick read. If you want to get a brief introduction to the various styles a lot of comedians — again, some of whom you’ve heard of and some of whom you haven’t — then I can think of no better introduction to so many quality comedians than “Care to Make Love in That Gross Little Space Between Cars?”

While I would unapologetically recommend the book, it definitely has some flaws that prevent it from being truly great.

Part of the problem with the book is the introduction by Judd Apatow. Apatow’s introduction is, quite frankly, terrible. It’s simply not funny at all — much like his few pages in “You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You.”

The introduction sets the tone for the book, which is that the comedians don’t really care about writing for the book so they’re not going to put any effort into their responses. Apatow’s introduction, for example, is at best self-indulgent. At worse, it’s simply the work of someone without much talent. Given how terrible “Funny People” could be at times — and by that I mean any time when Aziz Ansari wasn’t on screen — I think it’s the latter.

This could be forgiven if it wasn’t for such a hipster-vibe surrounding the introduction and most of the segments as well. It’s as if the comedians know that what they’re writing is mediocre but they just don’t care. They’re writing ironically, man, and it’s just not your place to criticize, you dig?

The sad thing is that when some of the comedians actually put an effort forward, they can be genuinely funny. Saget’s segment is genuinely enjoyable and Oswalt actually helps to save the day with what the editors at Believer describe as “a second attempt at an introduction.”

Much like his scene-stealing turns in Comedy Central’s roast specials, Jeselnik stands out as one of the best comedians alive with his writing in this book.

His response to one question in particular — which essentially asked whether or not a local theft of several hot dogs was bigger news than the potential curing of AIDS — was the funniest in the book, hands down.

If you have a few hours and want a few laughs, pick up a copy. Just know, however, that it leaves something to be desired.