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A Cut Above Dad Humor

Sketch and improv comic Doug Moe raises the level of wit about parenting in new book

Man vs. Child: One Dad’s Guide to the Weirdness of Parenting,” a book about the frustrations of parenting, by New York-based improv and sketch comedy performer Doug Moe, published in May by Abrams Image, takes a few chapters to ramp up and become entertaining and funny. Once it does, however, Moe’s book delivers parenting humor that cuts deeply and avoids cliché.

There’s a couple different elements going on in this book, beyond just the written text itself. Most of the publisher’s titles are visual art books, and Moe takes advantage of that by including graphic elements and well-designed sidebar pieces throughout. The other big element is that Moe’s prose lends itself to reading aloud. A reader can imagine different intonations that make the text even more fun. Moe writes with comedy sketch line readings in mind.

Take, for example, one of several statements a new modern dad might be prone to say, according to Moe, such as, “My dad never told me he loved me, so now I tell my baby every day.” One can imagine that delivered in a sing-song rhythm to play up the clichéd sentiment. Or, in another anecdote, Moe writes about how prior generations might only have one baby doll that “would be treasured until the day the crick done come and took it.” One could imagine this delivered in a hillbilly accent in a sketch show.

A third element is the use of magazine-style lists, as at a point when Moe lists how to fold up different models of strollers, with step-by-step instructions. The last step in folding up an Uppababy, Moe writes, is to “give uppa.” That’s the first really explosive laugh in the book, and it is a bit far into the proceedings. Later, Moe presents a facetious school calendar that exaggerates the holidays that seem to appear at every turn, a cutting joke that a parent will get a big laugh from.

But all the thought about presentation would be nothing without the meat of the comedy writing that fuels “Man Vs. Child.” Moe draws a lot from the frustrations of being a parent for the material in this book – and that’s the key for making the book resonate. This is true for pieces such as “Grandparents: Weird Babysitters,” “Screen Time Is A Wonderful Time” and a bit about curtailing a kid’s need to participate in everything a parent does by giving them the heaviest and most awkward tool possible for a task.

Overall “Man Vs. Child” has some dry stretches but Moe comes through with enough clever takes to make it an enjoyable read, appealing of course to a ready-made target market.














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