So I write funny books and sometimes people ask me what makes me think I’m funny.
And I tell them, well, this happened:
The summer I turned ten, my parents moved us from one small, northeastern New Jersey town to another small, northeastern New Jersey town—River Vale to Woodcliff Lake. It was maybe a twenty-minute drive from one town to the next, but for me we might as well have moved to Missouri.
I knew no one. I had no friends whatsoever. The first day of fifth grade was the first time I had seen any of my ten-year-old classmates and also the first time they had seen me.
The teacher was a smiling redheaded woman who couldn’t have been more than twenty-six years old. Miss McCloy was her name.
There were thirty-five kids in the class, all of us neat as a pin for the first day of school. Miss McCloy sat behind her desk at the front of the room and read aloud the names of the children in her charge. One after the other raised their hands and said, “Here.” McCloy then said something kind as a way of welcoming that particular child to her classroom and read the next name.
As she approached the Ls, I slid off my chair, belly-crawled the length of the aisle, and crouched flush up against and in front of her desk.
Some of my classmates were stunned to silence, but many were already laughing.
“Rich Leder,” McCloy said, and I shot up like a rocket straight into the air three feet in front of her face and shouted, “At your service.”
The class laughed and laughed. Some kids applauded.
McCloy, to her great credit, played along, welcomed me to her classroom, and sent me striding back down the aisle to my desk.
Everyone smiled at me. One kid shook my hand. The only thing they knew about me was that I was funny. I made friends that day I still have today.
The opening bell of fifth grade was the first time I was fully conscious about trying to be funny, about thinking I was funny and should be funny, about wanting to make those kids—total strangers—laugh at me and with me and out loud.
A lifetime later, nothing’s changed. I’m still consciously trying to be funny because I think I’m funny and should be funny, and I want to make you laugh at me and with me and out loud.
I’m grateful that you found me. I hope you’ll read my books whenever you’re looking to laugh because that’s why I write them.
The McCall & Company series began with me thinking I had a funny idea for a story and a cast of eccentric characters to hold onto my rollercoaster plot for dear life.
I don’t know for sure where the story idea came from. I used to live in New York City (the setting). I wrote multiple mystery movies as a Hollywood screenwriter (the genre). I’ve met plenty of quirky, crazy, Wild West outlaw-like lunatics in my preposterous life (the cast). So all of the above? Magic? Mount Olympus? Who knows?
Juggler, Porn Star, Monkey Wrench is a somewhat reasonable representation of my outrageous life in LA.
I can’t account for Let There Be Linda. Some crazy shit has no answers. It’s just in my head.
I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh. If we emailed each other (and we should), I’m sure we’d crack each other up. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Email me any time. I’ll email you back.