Karen Valby
April 05, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Funnymen

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ted Heller
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

In his bighearted new novel, Heller leaves behind the cubicles of the New York magazine industry, which he gleefully carved up in Slab Rat, and heads west, drawn by Hollywood’s glare. Ziggy Blissman and Vic Fontana are two B-list entertainers — one fat and Jewish, the other slick and Italian — who team up on a Catskills stage. Together they make great comedy. All is dished in their ”oral history”: the fast rise to fame, the infighting, their long-suffering support team, the gossip columnists who stab and fawn. Less insular and arch than Slab Rat, Heller’s follow-up proves he can write about the bite of the young as well as the wisdom of the aged. As old men, Fountain and Bliss are the last to know when they’ve lost it. Ziggy, wrinkled and spent, finally realizes, ”I’m too tired to be funny.” A-

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