If you're even a casual fan of Colin Mochrie, then you already know that he is a funny, funny man. He has a peculiar sort of humor, blending Canadian stereotypical politeness with an often surprising edge, but he is as clever as he is frantic. When I first hear he was taking the Whose Line is it Anyway approach to a short story collection with Not Quite the Classics, I knew I was going to have to read it.
A Study in Ha Ha opens the collection with a Sherlock Holmes homage so absurd, so inconceivable, it works astoundingly well. In it, Holmes decides to make a study of jokes, with the intention of becoming the world's first stand-up comic. Moby: Toupee or Not Toupee is a tale of a different sort, a blackly comic horror story about a bald man who lacks confidence, and the living toupee that does far more than just boost his self-esteem.
One of the early highlights of the collection is Casey at the Bar, a straight up homage of Casey at the bat, with Colin's version being the story of a washed up Leaf's goalie. Funny stuff, and as it enjoys a few wildly humorous tangents. My favorite entry, however, has to be A Tale of Two Critters. It's written as a very stuffy Dickensian tale, capturing the narrative essence of the original, which actually suits the story of poor old Wile E. Coyote very well. Without spoiling it, let's just say that anybody who's ever wanted to see the roadrunner get his due won't be disappointed!
The Cat and My Dad is another rhyming tale, this time putting a very Seussian spin on the post-apocalyptic zombie story. It's a fun story, surprisingly dark given the singsong verse, and it reminds us precisely why polite, law-abiding, poorly-armed Canadians would have a hard time with zombies. Along the same lines, Twas Not Right Before Christmas continues the rhyming lyrical theme, offering up a Twilight Zone mash-up of all the holiday standards, coming together under one man's roof. If there's any justice in the world, this will be the next animated holiday special . . . just please don't let Tim Allen or Adam Sandler be involved.
While I had hopes that Not Quite the Classics would be funny, I honestly did not expect it to be as clever and as well-written as it is. Clearly, Mochrie put a lot of thought and imagination into his story choices, and while a few missed my funny bone, others had me laughing out loud (and driving my wife crazy with my insistence on reading passages aloud). How each story will hit you depends as much on your sense of humor as your familiarity with the source material, but it's an entertaining bunch of tales.
Hardcover, 231 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Viking Canada