Monday, August 16, 2010

Hottest Writing Career Path: Sh*t My Dad Says

This book, Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern, is on fire. It is the No. 1 New York Times non-fiction bestseller. Its path to bookshelves, though, is far from a trend, and oh how many of us wish it were.

I wouldn't know about this book if it weren't for an all-things-media- attuned friend who brought it up recently during brunch. I think we were discussing get-rich-website ideas. "Have you heard of Sh*t My Dad Says?" she asked. She had to run the story by me twice before I fully comprehended. Luckily she has an iPhone, so she could do a show-and-tell right there, giving me the visual.

By now you might know the story: Halpern was a 28-year-old Californian who decided to move back home to save money while trying to lift his fledgling comedy writing career to more solid ground. His retired dad hung around the house all day, and Halpern started tweeting the comments his dad threw at him, comments which, as it turns out, were pretty funny. The tweets became popular with his friends, then some more followers, and then went viral.

According to Halpern's website,, the turning point was when comedian Rob Corddry tweeted about Halpern's tweet, launching the tweet collection into the stratosphere. Subsequently it all got bound into a book (the aforementioned bestseller). A CBS sitcom now is in the works, starring William Shatner as the dad.

So how does something like that happen, given that it doesn't happen to most of us? I guess something resonates loudly from Halpern's voice as it echoes his father's voice. Maybe it is the boldness of his father's witty wisdom, reminding readers of someone they may have heard at some point in their lives. There's also Halpern's subtle self-deprecation in his implicit deference to a curmudgeon dad who is also his landlord, two anti-heroes that are easy to like, even identify with. But mostly, I guess people always will embrace material that makes them laugh, whether in a tweet, a blog or a book. I can also say confidently that, for anyone who can have it, the Halpern career path will never go out of style.

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