Book review: ‘Lunatics’

Read a book review of Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel

A novel by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel, available on Amazon

Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel’s novel Lunatics is the story of two men who do not get along. Phillip Horkman, whose first-person chapters were written by Zweibel, seems like a nice enough guy, sort of a less-religious Ned Flanders. Jeffrey Peckerman, whose character was written by Barry, is pretty much the world’s biggest asshole from the Dennis Leary song of the same name. An ill-fated moment during a girls soccer match launches Horkman and Peckerman into an escalating series of events involving terrorism, nudists, war, Chuck E. Cheese, piracy, famine, international diplomacy, police groins, revolution, presidential politics and Charo.

Lunatics is silly and fun and satirizes many of the institutions responsible for the world’s problems today. Zweibel and Barry wrote the book from 1,500 miles apart, which I wrote about in this Alan Zweibel interview, and you can sense how much fun these two humor writers had taking two mundane men into a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse.

Lunatics is being turned into a movie, with Steve Carell attached to produce and star. How this movie gets made for less than $850 million remains a mystery. Zweibel told me that the part of Peckerman has not been cast, and if I might make a suggestion, how about Stephen Colbert? Maybe it’s because Carell and Colbert emerged publicly on The Daily Show together, leaving them forever intertwined, but Colbert’s patented self-centered asshole persona was how I pictured Peckerman when I read this book. I sincerely hope they let Charo play Charo.

Barry and Zweibel’s book tour starts today.


‘Deranged pen pals’ Zweibel and Barry team up for Lunatics

Read an interview with Lunatics co-author Alan Zweibel

alan_zweibelPardon the backstory, but it’s necessary to explain how this interview came about and why the first question in this Q-and-A is about Alan Zweibel’s prosthetic tooth.

I launched The Humor Columnist on Nov. 25, 2011. I didn’t tell anyone because I wanted to spend at least a month working out all of the bugs, of which there have been many. If I have learned anything in the last 30 days it is that I am not a WordPress designer. In fact, if WordPress had any brains at all it would send armed men to keep me away from its content management system for fear of destroying the company’s reputation.

To test the site I began posting stories, specifically the types of stories I plan to run when the site officially launches. These would include my columns, links to other humor columns and news about humor writers. On December 12 I posted a story called Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel are and have written Lunatics. Zweibel read the post and left a comment, thus becoming the first non-Russian-spam-bot to leave a comment on this site. I emailed Zweibel to see if he would do an interview and he agreed. The interview took a few weeks to set up. At one point Zweibel emailed me to say he had thrown his back out while looking for his tooth implant, which had fallen out of his mouth. Yes, you read that all correctly. He wrote about it here.

Zweibel and I spoke over the phone. He took the call at the Friars Club, where he has been a member since he left Saturday Night Live, where he was one of the show’s original writers. We talked about Lunatics, the book he and Dave Barry wrote about two New Jersey soccer dads who do not get along.

The story is told in alternating chapters by its protagonists, mild-mannered Philip Horkman (written by Zweibel) and Grade-A jerk Jeffrey Peckerman (written by Barry). Their adventure begins when Horkman, a youth soccer ref, calls Peckerman’s daughter off-sides during a key play in the championship game. I don’t want to spoil what happens next, other than to say the rest of the story involves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Republican National Convention, a monkey that shoots a helicopter pilot in the groin and Charo.

The book is very funny. You can sense how much fun Zweibel and Barry had sending these chapters to each other as they played a friendly game of “Yes, that’s good, and then this ridiculous thing involving a lemur should happen.”

Universal Pictures has acquired Lunatics. Steve Carell is attached to star as Philip.

Thank you, Katie Clay at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Joe Donatelli:
Have you been back to the dentist to have your tooth put back in?

Alan Zweibel: Yeah. It’s intact at the moment.

Joe Donatelli:
Did you ask the dentist why your tooth fell out of your mouth?

Alan Zweibel: You know something, he gave some lame excuse. Somehow he blamed it on me.

Joe Donatelli:

Alan Zweibel: Yeah. It didn’t really jive. I’ve since switched dentists and now it’s taken care of.

Joe Donatelli:
I’m glad to hear your teeth can now withstand the force of a small sneeze.

Alan Zweibel: Absolutely.

Continue reading “‘Deranged pen pals’ Zweibel and Barry team up for Lunatics”


Alan Zweibel says he and Dave Barry will come to your home and read Lunatics to you

Prominent authors promise to come to cheap readers’ homes and read to them

I recently noted that Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel’s new book Lunatics comes out right after Christmas when no one in their right mind will be spending money. Someone calling himself “Alan Zweibel” left this response on The Humor Columnist:

Joe –

Dave and I are aware that so soon after Christmas people may be tapped out. Hopefully, they’ll have enough money left over to buy “Lunatics”. For those who don’t, however, please let your readers know that we are more than willing to go to their homes and read the book to them.

– az

I told Alan that most people would not trust him and Dave Barry inside their homes.

Oh, and for the record, Zweibel is the first person to comment on this website. (Not because it stinks! Because it hasn’t officially launched yet. I don’t know how Zweibel found it. I can only assume that, much like myself, Zweibel sits around and Googles himself all day.)


Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel are and have written Lunatics

Order a copy of Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel’s new book Lunatics.

Just in time for after the holiday season, when no one is buying anything, comes Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel’s new book Lunatics.

Stolen from Publishers Weekly:

“Humorists Barry (Tricky Business) and Zweibel (The Other Shulman) team up to spin the madcap adventure of Philip Horkman and Jeffrey A. Peckerman, who meet on the soccer pitch of a Fort Lee, N.J., girls’ 10-and-under league championship game, where Horkman calls Peckerman’s daughter offside. Alternating chapters of mutual loathing between Horkman, a coarse, “forensic plumber,” and Peckerman, the progressive owner of a pet store called the Wine Shop, chronicle a fight that escalates by accident and miscalculation to encompass high seas piracy and revolution. As unwitting as the characters in Woody Allen’s Without Feathers—or, better yet, as inept as Bananas’ Fielding Mellish—Horkman and Peckerman stumble over themselves trying to escape police, nudists, a lemur named Buddy, a tank in Tiananmen Square, fruit-wielding Somalis, Yemeni terrorists, Chuck E. Cheese, and Donald Trump. Energetic, scatological, and profoundly silly.”

Lunatics comes out Jan. 10 and is available on