I am an advice columnist, which means I get a lot of e-mail from people with problems.
Some of those problems are serious and thought-provoking and require answers that are carefully weighed and considered. Others are . . . well, obvious. As in, “My boyfriend has cheated on me 16 times. Should I break up with him?’’ Or, “I never want to marry my girlfriend. How can I get her to stop hinting that she wants me to propose?’’
I tend not to answer the most obvious questions, but when I do, I try to be empathetic. Sometimes it’s hard.
CARE TO MAKE LOVE IN THAT GROSS LITTLE SPACE BETWEEN CARS?
And that’s why an evil grin spread across my face (think: Mr. Burns on “The Simpsons’’) when I got my hands on “Care to Make Love in That Gross Little Space Between Cars? A Believer Book of Advice.’’ The usually brilliant Believer magazine has a wonderful column created by comedian Amy Sedaris called Sedaratives, which features very funny answers to purposefully ridiculous questions. The idea already spawned one book, “You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice.’’ I was too lazy to buy that one, so I was excited to get my hands on this sequel (sequels are usually better anyway).
The book is divided into 39 chapters, each devoted to the answers offered by specific musicians, cartoonists, producers, writers, comics, and actors, many of whom work for TV programs such as “The Daily Show,’’ “Saturday Night Live,’’ “Parks and Recreation,’’ and “The Late Show With David Letterman.’’ I can’t say that “Care to Make Love’’ has made it any easier to read the inane questions sent to my inbox from people who stalk their exes or spend 14 hours pondering their girlfriend’s Facebook status, but I can say that certain members of Believer’s pack of humorists made me wonder what these famous people would say to my real letter writers if they had the chance.
Newton-bred comedian Louis C.K. is my favorite of the bunch. In his answer to a letter writer who asks how to make her own Baby Bjorn, Louis says, “Baby Bjorns are stupid. Just carry your ugly, ugly kid or let him walk next to you as you live your [expletive] life.’’ To a letter writer named Rebekkeh T. who asks, “Is secondhand smoke really as bad as everyone says it is?’’ Louis says, “Let me give you some statistics. 1. Your name is stupid. 2. Nobody Cares What You Think. 3. I hate you.’’
One letter, given to Bob Saget, would fit nicely in my column. “Ready for Some Adultery’’ asks, “I’m pretty sure my husband is cheating on me. Do I confront him about it, or just have my own extramarital fun?’’ Saget replies, “I’d try to figure out if you love him enough to work on it and get as honest as you guys can with each other.’’ Then he adds, “What I meant to say was . . . bang his brother and his best friend and his boss, and show the tape at his next business meeting.’’
If only I could answer questions with that kind of thoughtfulness.
I’m kidding. Sort of.
Know that while “Care to Make Love’’ is quite amusing and a perfect gift for, well, me, it has its low points. Some people are just funnier than others. Humor writers like Zach Galifianakis - who tells a reader seeking dermatological advice that a good mole is “on the face. A small one on the cheek is classy and expresses a worldliness that you do not get from a wart’’ - make other famous, noncomedian contributors such as former “Charmed’’ star Rose McGowan, seem slightly less funny. And the entire book is best read after your nightly allergy pill, in that half hour of woozy time before sleep.
Which is, by the way, not the time for composing letters seeking advice from columnists like me.