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Marni Interviews her Guru, John Vorhaus, Author of the Comic Toolbox

 A Most Inappropriate Interview with John Vorhaus
Aselfie sedonaMarni:  Can you give us an example of the lies you will be telling in your latest book, Banana Pants Crazy?

John_Vorhaus_0John:  Well, let’s see… I’ll be presenting a few dozen words of my own creation and setting out to prove to you that they’re “real.” I’ll be telling you about my grandfather, who was not real. I will be recounting incidents in Amsterdam that never took place (including the world-famous and utterly-fictitious Museum of Lies). And I’ll be telling a bunch of truth, too, such as “the trouble with too far is you never know you’re going till you’ve gone.”

Aselfie sedonaMarni:  You say that zazz is a word.  What evidence do you have to back up this claim?

John_Vorhaus_0John:  Marni, Marni, Marni… in this day and age, EVERYTHING is real. Zazz may be short for, the website, or it may be what the Urban Dictionary claims it to be, “A quantifiable bit of something special.” It could be — and is — a character from Sonic the Hedgehog. I take it to mean “improve, or spice up,” and I stand by that definition as the real one — well, one of the real ones. In the end I have to go with my man Lewis Carroll on this:  “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”’

Aselfie sedonaMarni:  Who is the UN-funniest person you have ever met?

John_Vorhaus_0John:  My eighth-grade science teacher, Mrs. Buchanan. She was a soulless, humorless piece of work. Once I stumbled upon a quote from some novel, thus: “I’m not going to kill you,” Buchanan said, “but when I’m done you’ll wish I had.” I made up a big poster of it and shared it with the class. We all thought it was hilarious. Mrs. Buchanan? Not so much. Later I got to learn what detention was like.

Aselfie sedonaMarni:  Personally, I am a big fan of the inappropriate response.  Can you tell us how you came up with that tool?

John:  Great question. Fuck you. (That’s an inappropriate response.) It was probably twenty years ago when I was toiling in the sit-com mines and also teaching The Comic Toolbox for the first time(s). It occurred to me that certain people (assholes and fools for example) can tell the truth in situations where others will not, for fear of being “inappropriate.” The asshole doesn’t care what’s appropriate and the fool does not know. But they’re funny. It’s always (well, usually) funny to have someone speak a truth that others won’t. So that’s when I discovered the tool. I slapped a fancy label on it (trademarked it) and the rest is humor-history.


Aselfie sedona  Marni: What’s the oddest comment you have ever received at a book signing?

John_Vorhaus_0John:  Another great question. You really have me wracking my brain here. I suppose one might have been when I was doing a book signing for POKER NIGHT in Chicago and NO ONE showed up. Finally some guy strolls in and asks what time does the author get here? At another book signing, someone came up to me and said, categorically, “Don’t quit your day job.” But it was my mom, so it was okay.



John Vorhaus is now known to one and all as the man who brought Radar Hoverlander – con artist extraordinaire – to life in the “sunshine noir” mystery novel, THE CALIFORNIA ROLL, and its acclaimed sequel, THE ALBUQUERQUE TURKEY. His other novels include UNDER THE GUN and WORLD SERIES OF MURDER, the latter available exclusively through Kindle.

John is also well known as the author of THE COMIC TOOLBOX: HOW TO BE FUNNY EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT. This seminal book on writing comedy for television and film is now in its fifth printing, and continues to be a definitive source of information and inspiration for writers from Santa Monica to Scandinavia. Its companion volume, CREATIVITY RULES, is similarly a crucial book for writers at any stage of development.


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