the Funniest Kid in America
Max Carmody has always had a great interest in comedy, and he's certainly established himself as a class clown at school, but his life takes on new meaning when a Chicago television station decides they want to discover "The Funniest Kid in America!"
Now Max's life has focus. Now it has meaning. Now he has a new name -- Maxx Comedy. And, since the course of life (and especially that of novels) is never smooth, Maxx Comedy now has problems.
These range from the common school and home life complaints of a sixth grader to worries of demo tapes and finding an audience at the local comedy club, and in typical Korman fashion, they're played for a lot of great laughs.
Rest assured, the Korman tradition of kids accomplishing great things in rather unorthodox ways is in full force.
From the Book:
the deal with Barney? Are you telling me that, with all the crushing jaws
and killer claws in the dinosaur kingdom, the only species that didn't become
extinct is purple, has no teeth, and a rear end the size of a king-size water
Four-year-old Olivia Plunkett sat on a tiny chair, staring blankly up at her half brother, Max Carmody.
"And the Teletubbies. Give me a break! Are they supposed to be real? Hey, Tinky Winky, you've got a television growing out of your stomach! You live in a bomb shelter! Your vacuum cleaner is alive! Whoa-heads up! There's a giant baby trapped inside the sun. . . ."
Olivia looked at him resentfully, her lower lip quivering. "Mom, he's saying mean things about Tinky Winky again!"
Max sighed. It was one of the first rules of comedy: great material can take you only so far; the rest is up to the audience. And it helps, he reflected, if the audience is old enough to understand a joke.
But just being older didn't always guarantee that an audience would be any better. Max's best friend, Maude Dolinka, was one of the smartest girls in sixth grade. She understood all the jokes. She just didn't consider them funny.
"So you think I should be laughing because there's someone in the phone book with a dumb name."
"It's hilarious!" Max argued. "Can't you picture Mr. and Mrs. Smellie naming their newborn son Irving Martin-without realizing the kid is going to be I. M. Smellie!"
"He's lucky," Maude said tragically. "You don't know what it's like to be Maude Do-stinka. Or Odd Maude the Clod. I never know what's coming next. I. M. Smellie. He's smelly. So what? He's never going to have a nickname."
Then there was Mario, Max's stepdad. He found everything that came out of Max's mouth to be absolutely hilarious. That was no help either. He'd be cracking up before Max even opened his mouth to start a joke. You couldn't tell how your routine was going over with a guy who was determined to yuk it up no matter what you said-even if you said nothing at all. It was like going by a thermometer that always gave the same temperature.
Right before he died, the famous actor Sir Donald Wolfit said, "Dying is easy; comedy is hard." Of course, how seriously could you take a "famous" actor nobody had ever heard of? And anyway, he was dead now, so it was impossible to tell if he knew what he was talking about.
But it sure made sense.
Copyright © 2003 by Gordon Korman, used by permission