Meet Humorist Ted Fox
Barnes and Noble, Holland
Feb. 2, 1 p.m.
tedfoxisawesome.com, (616) 994-6015
Ted Fox is a wiseass, but if it weren't for life's little ironies, he never would have thought to make a living as one. After graduating with a degree in economics from Notre Dame, he was lucky enough to land his dream job at ESPN, only to find it nothing short of nightmarish.
"It was a classic case of, 'If you like sausage, don't visit the sausage factory,'" Fox said.
In need of a fresh start, he took a writing job in the public relations department of his alma mater and realized that it wasn't too late to rediscover his passion for funny business. Countless hours of spare time, an agent and an unpublished book later, a humor writer was born.
You Know Who's Awesome? Not You is a collection of savagely witty tweets that explore humanity in all its idiosyncratic glory. The concept arose from a series of posts on Fox's blog, each one probing the ridiculousness of a different social paradigm, which caught the eye of an agent who thought a collection of them could work well in book format. She shifted Fox's online focus to Twitter and helped him build a substantial following and enough material to entice publishers. Fox claims he wouldn't have reached anyone without social media. With more comedians using the medium as a platform for their humor, the challenge is to remain funny with fewer words and stiffer competition.
Along with his Twitter account (@AuthorTedFox), he counts a website (tedfoxisawesome.com) and a few blogs among the tools he uses to convey his highly relatable brand of humor. He is currently at work on a book, tentatively titled 33: Jesus, Belushi, Farley, and Me, which pokes fun at the propensity of humans to reassess their priorities as they near middle age. For Fox, that meant compiling a list of the 33 things (all awesome, of course) he must do before he dies.
"It's almost like this Eat, Pray, Love kind of thing," he said. "But I'm a humor writer, and unlike Eat, Pray, Love-lady, I actually like my life, so I don't want to throw it all away."
Offline, Fox uses public appearances as an opportunity to further connect with his audience. At the three events he's been a part of so far, he's relished the opportunity to meet and connect with people who really get what his writing is all about. At the heart of his comedic approach lies the kind of self-examination that each of us needs in order to stave off self-destruction.
"It's being able to laugh at ourselves, to relieve that stress and pressure," he said. "That's where humor really has value."
Other Literary Events
Hope Visiting Writers Series – Shane Book and Mat Johnson
Knickerbocker Theatre, Downtown Holland
Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m.
hope.edu, (616) 395-7403
Poet Shane Book and novelist Mat Johnson share their work, experiences and insights at a free author talk. Book is a graduate of the renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop and his poetry has earned significant critical acclaim. Johnson has published three novels, a non-fiction novella and two comic books. Together they will bring audience members an enlivening and enlightening evening, the standard for the Hope Writers' Series. A free jazz concert, beginning at 6:30, will precede the presentation.
A Lacks Family Presentation by David Lacks
Fetzer Center Auditorium, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo
Feb. 11, 4:30 p.m.
wmich.edu, (269) 387-1000
When Rebecca Skloot published her nonfiction book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, in 2010, few people knew anything about Henrietta Lacks besides the contributions her cells had made to science. It wasn't until the book became one of the year's best-selling titles that the story of Henrietta Lacks, the person, came to the forefront. David "Sonny" Lacks, Henrietta's son, worked closely with other members of the Lacks family and Ms. Skloot to ensure the book's accuracy and effectiveness, and in the years following, he has traveled the speaking circuit to help readers connect with the story of Henrietta's life in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Grand Valley Writers Series – Patricia Clark and Chris Haven
Cook-DeWitt Auditorium, Grand Valley State University, Allendale
Feb. 12, 4 p.m.
gvsu.edu, (616) 331-5000
GVSU welcomes two of its own to the stage in the second event of the current Grand Valley Writers Series. Former Grand Rapids Poet Laureate Patricia Clark and Chris Haven are both accomplished writers and members of GVSU's English faculty. With a plethora of writing, editing and teaching experience between them, they will share their work and speak about the challenges of maintaining the balance between professional and creative pursuits.