“There are always one or two African American or Latino writers,” Parham told me when I met him on Sunday in Brooklyn. “But it’s never a complete book of us. And I wanted to create our own conversation. To say these are our stories and they are just as important and we can still be in dialogue with you guys and be just as good as you guys.“(1)
Such pieces help to distinguish The Lowbrow Reader from its online counterparts. The focus falls on the immortal icons of the form, as well as the forgotten, cult-ish corners, rather than ephemeral recaps of sitcoms and stand-up specials. The book is refreshingly free of irony, and Ruttenberg claims a conscious effort was made to “avoid a winking appreciation” of the material discussed. However you may feel about Adam Sandler (who serves as a sort of talisman for the Reader as a whole), Ruttenberg’s “Billy Madison: A Love Letter” convincingly treats him as a profoundly influential benchmark of comedy’s recent past.