Monday, July 21, 2008

Stalking Mr. Stein

If you were to ask 100 humor essayists about their influences, 78.5 of them would include Time magazine/L.A. Times columnist Joel Stein.

For those who are unfamiliar with statistics, that breaks down to

  • 78 Stein fans
  • 21 not Stein fans
  • 1 schizophrenic

Anyway, without copping to anything that might later bite me on the ass - like, oh, starting a war - I will admit that I follow Mr. Stein's work somewhat regularly. (It's not my fault they keep delivering Time week after week. Well, actually it is, but I get it primarily for the serious stuff; Joel just happens to be in there.)

Anyway, I have observed that even a guy Time and the L.A. Times think is funny doesn't exactly bat 1,000. In fact, some of his columns are downright unfunny.

Evidently Time is aware of this, too, because they sometimes dispatch our boy Joel to beer tastings in Denver - the big-time equivalent of covering the River City Fun Run.

Nonetheless, I will have to admit that Mr. Stein still has a leg up on the likes of me. In fact, the following statistical breakdown illustrates our relative positions in the humor universe:


(The circles are not to scale, by the way; if mine were in correct proportion you'd need an electron microscope to see it.)

One telling difference between an experienced national talent like Mr. Stein and a struggling wannabe like - well, you know - is that he'd have a snappy ending to this essay. Which I do not.

But then again, nobody's sending me to any beer tastings.