Ben Stiller &
Janeane Garofalo,
Feel This Audiobook
(Harper, 1999)

The tone sounds almost serious. If the listener is credulous enough, or possibly just a little drunk, he might actually believe that Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo are dispensing life-altering pearls of romantic wisdom.

But the careful listener will know that this is satire, a send-up of the numerous self-help books from countless "I Know More Than You" gurus who are more than happy to make your world a better place, as long as you're willing to pony up some bucks and follow their advice to the letter.

But Stiller and Garofalo aren't out to make your life better. They want to make you laugh. And Feel This Audiobook, read by the authors in "he said, she said" rotation, succeeds on that count.

I first listened to this two-cassette set while driving the streets of Toronto with a friend, and we laughed long and loud at the meandering prose masquerading as sage counsel. I recently gave it its second hearing, while making a long, late-night drive with my girlfriend, and we both spent much of the trip in laughter as Stiller and Garofalo described their own muddled relationship and shamelessly promoted their careers. These two do a grand imitation of psychologists overdosed on their own overuse of confusing metaphors, cliches and anecdotes; they employ enough polysyllabic jargon to make you almost believe they know what they're talking about. But, as they note in their introduction, "We are professionals. Though not specifically professionals in the field of 'psychology' or 'psychiatry,' we are both highly paid actors and comedians, and as such know more about neuroses than you could possibly imagine...."

Listen to them closely. Chuckle at their "fastermations" and witticisms disguised as clever insights into the soul. Just, whatever you do, don't pay them any heed.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 28 December 2002

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