Saturday, September 26, 2009

Is Aaron Karo Having More Fun Than You?

A better question to ask would be, who is this guy? This leads to other questions that must first be asked like what authority does this Aaron Karo have? Why would I care what this guy’s day-to-day life is like at all? Or to use his phrase, “Who the fuck are you?” Well, Aaron Karo is a stand-up comedian—his routine for the most part appears in the book and isn’t too bad when performed, however, it loses something when written down—and writer of three books (Ruminations on College Life, Ruminations on Twentysomething Life, and I’m Having More Fun Than You [IHMFTY]) who got his start with a widely circulating “email column”, Ruminations, that he began while a first year at the Wharton School of the Ivy League UPenn, which is the best business school in the country. He has appeared as a guest on the Late Late Show with Colin Ferguson, ABC News, and Fox News, he was especially funny in the last two, has a digital stand-up record, Just Go Talk to Her, that peaked as the #8 Comedy Album on the iTunes Store, and this latest book of his, IHMFTY, reached the #1 spot for Humor on

Karo tells the reader most of this stuff to lend some credibility to everything he is talking about. But it doesn’t really work. These credentials wouldn’t have appealed to me enough to buy the book. How I came to read the book is something of a story in it self.* Anyway, telling us over and over again that he went to an Ivy League school doesn’t make him seem—oh, I don’t know—smart when everything is drinking this and banging (his preferred term for fucking) that. Plus, I assume most people don’t know very much about him and therefore don’t really care like he seems to assume readers do. And maybe the average person to buy his book will, however, knowing nothing about Mr. Karo, this reviewer found the detailing of what his friends are like over some 35-pages filled with contextless anecdotes to be excruciating and unnecessary.

Another irritating thing about the book is that it is littered with spelling and grammatical mistakes. A few others I found were “ever single night” (185) which I assume should be every and it’s a packaged deal not “a package deal” (193). That last one seems particularly infuriating and problematic considering the pun he is setting with the word “package.” While I am a grammarian snoot at heart, as is the case with most English majors, I do make mistakes from time to time. However, when I find mistakes in a published work it annoys the hell out of me since even with all those eyes looking over it, typos still make it in. These sorts of things make it hard to take the book at all seriously.

He is also paradoxical when it comes to many of the claims he makes. On one page it sounds like he bones thousands of women and his number of sexual partners, which he never discloses, rivals that of Wilt “The Big Dipper” Chamberlain, and on another more like he goes months sleeping alone. So too, at times it seems like he is looking to find the girl of his dreams and marry her right now and at other times is he in no way going to step up to the alter for at least another decade. He says that he won’t lie to sleep with a girl, seeing it as both unethical and unnecessary, and then he will go on to relate 25 stories about women he banged that he got into bed by telling complete all out falsehoods. These last two, which sort of go hand in hand, are also related to Mr. Karo’s most unforgivable inconsistency: his attitudes regarding and treatment of women.

Early on in the book, it actually seems that Karo is worried about offending women with his choice of lifestyle, and that he trying to distance himself from say a Tucker Max (see any of the following things about him on Gawker: “The Depraved Sadness of a Tucker Max Fan,” “Todays Lies From Tucker Max,” “‘The kind of asshole that all of his asshole friends love’,” “Tucker Max Seeks ‘Large-Titted Woman Who Is Turned On By Being An Object’,” etc.) or an Eric Schaffer (see “Eric Schaeffer Still Working His Worst-Douche-in-the-World Shtick”)—both whom hate women, a la Andrew Dice Clay—only to later make extremely misogynistic statements. at the beginning, he says things that explain his stance on dating and takes women seriously, writing about the double standards forced on women in a similar position by society. For example, when talking about how when he is surrounded by couples, it is more obvious that he is available, “but for many women, the same situation only makes it more obvious that they’re alone,” a fact he empathizes with women about, saying “that self-conscious feeling is the result of an unfair stigma foisted upon the fairer sex by society,” (11).

He also touches on the way the sexes are viewed differently in regard to their reputation when sexually active/promiscuous while making light of how he has benefited from such a difference when he writes, “It is without question that men and women are judged by different standards. If a girl sleeps around, she is called a slut. If a guy sleeps around, he gets a book deal,” (96). And when he describes rating systems as the “mechanisms passed down for generations that enable guys to assign a universally understood numerical value to a girl,” it seems he is more than anything letting women know what goes through the typical guys head and even says of this terrible but practically universally used practice “the entire exercise is, of course, superficial and borderline offensive,” (37). While this stuff too can be seen as offensive, he does seem to just want to teach more than anything else.

However, his motives for doing so get called into question as he makes uber offensive comments like “drunk chicks are like pinballs: they’ll bounce around the bar like ding!—ding!—ding ding!—ding!—ding! and then just go home with the last guy the bump into,” (51). Stuff like this gives him the air of one that does things like take women’s and gender studies courses in college to seem sensitive to the girls taking the class just so he can bang them. Worse still are things like this “Fun Fact” where he claims that “if a man takes a woman’s virginity, or gives her her first orgasm, he is entitled to sleep with her for the rest of his life,” (73). This sort of thing makes women out to be mindless objects with no ability to choose in that they will go along with anything the stronger and smarter males of the species desire no matter degrading or morally objectionable.

That said, at times, his ruminations do prove to be pretty accurate. For instance, when he posits that referring to fellatio as giving head “implies that a blow job is a gift that any guy [sic] should be appreciative to ever receive,” (85) is sad but true, he reminds me of something my friends and I came up with in college, which too is offensive and childish. What we did was base a person’s willingness to perform oral sex based on what he or she called it. According to this theory, one who says blowjob sees the act as a job that is done but rarely if ever enjoyed, giving head is something given if one is good or on special occasions much like a gift, and then sucking cock or eating pussy, you get the idea.

Proving accurate as well are things like the phenomenon of “guys bringing their love of stats and competition into the bedroom,” (89) when doing things like rating girls, keeping count of sexual partners, and timing sessions. But perhaps the most uplifting and true thing that Karo gets right is his assertion that “the longer you’re single before getting married, the better off you’ll be, because only single people truly know what makes them happy,” (238) with which I whole heartedly agree.

IHMFTY’s major disappointment though is the fact that it is not very funny. Yes, at times it does bring out a smile or two but it never proved laugh out loud hilarious, not once. This is especially unsatisfying after watching all the clips on the web of Karo’s stand-up and interviews where he shines as a witty, fun-loving, articulate man’s man. More often than not, jokes that you laugh on stage end up dying when written out. In Karo’s case this holds unquestionably true as he bombs punch line after punch line. Some examples: “This book won’t tell you how to do it, only how I did. What am I, fucking Oprah?” (4); “In college basketball, overcoming those odds is called being Cinderella. Every year, when March Madness unfolds, you hear a lot of gushing over Cinderella. But I’d only rate her about a seven,” (41); and “You want to find the guy who took a dump in the bar bathroom, huh? I’ll tell you it [sic, I guess?] is—it’s the happiest guy here,” (155). The last one proves to be a twofer in that it is both not funny and that it doesn’t even make any sense.

But I do admit, he is having way more fun than me, even if it isn’t as much fun as he claims.

* After buying and (quasi favorably) reviewing Maddox’s The Alphabet of Manliness a few months back, someone at HarperCollins found my blog, this site you’re reading here, and asked if I would be interested in reviewing Aaron Karo’s (IHMFTY), a book they are marketing to a similar demographic. Never one to turn down a free book, I agreed and read Mr. Karo’s work on living the single life, a topic that doesn’t exactly interest me, not that I have anything against that lifestyle, its just that can’t imagine why I or anyone would want to read about the “wasted” life of someone they have never even met.


Brew said...

Haven't read the book. By your analysis, I'd say the dude got lucky someone even published this crap.

I have countless drinking buddies I could call at 2 a.m. and get a much shorter and more entertaining version of this story...

btw check out my latest post about Griffey..

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