It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny), is a collection of short prose humor pieces written over several decades. They originally appeared in a variety of publications, from the famous and highly esteemed — such as the New Yorker, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slate — to the more obscure but still influential — such as Yankee Pot Roast, Monkeybicycle, Modern Humorist, and Kugelmass. Some were first published at The Big Jewel, a literary humor site that the author founded in 2002 and oversaw until 2019, when he sent it far away to live on a farm.
The result is a true miscellany that includes parodies of great literature (Kafka, Hemingway, Hardy, Plato), parodies of artifacts familiar from daily life (a letter of recommendation, a census form, a tax form, a newspaper editorial), pieces dealing with canonical segments of culture (period songs, fake anthropology, conceptual art), pieces about science in the broad aspect (a battle between two paleontologists, a new angle on seismology, a look at the comic side of space travel), personal or relationship humor (a family vacation, a childhood memoir), and what can only be deemed pure nonsense (a Dada-like play, an American history sans history, an update on UFO’s), as well as darker bits reflecting the author’s own psyche and the spirit of the times (various con games, nightmares, cancer-causing horoscopes, and yes, zombies!).
As Kurt Luchs said of this collection, “If there is an overarching theme it is simply my constant desire to make the reader laugh in as many ways as possible, about as many subjects as possible, with high wit and low, using every device and artifice of literature, though just as often standing all such devices on their heads for comic effect.”
Immediately after saying that, he accidentally stepped on a nail gun and gave himself an unplanned vasectomy.