Author Ken Garber's new book funny to the 'right' reader

February 15, 2013|By Yvette May/Staff Photographer
  • Ken Garber, a sales director from Hagerstown, has published his second book, "The Funniest Political Emails I Read While My Boss Thought I Was Working."
Photo by Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Age: 46

City in which you reside: Hagerstown

Day job: Sales director for What's NXT

Book title: "The Funniest Political Emails I Read While My Boss Thought I Was Working"

Genre: Humor

Synopsis of book: This book is a collection of laugh-out-loud stories, jokes and artwork that have been created by everyday folks and distributed through email. This collection — my second book — focuses strictly on the politicians who run our government.

Publisher: (self-published through Book Baby)

Price: Special "State of the Union" sale price • $5.99 (reg. price $10.99)

This is your second published collection of emails, right? So you must be rolling in dough by now.

Sure! (Note tone of heavy sarcasm) Luckily I'm a smaller guy, so it's a VERY short roll.

What inspired you to compile funny emails in a book in the first place?

I was a newspaper reporter during the advent of email in the workplace. Most people know I laugh at nearly everything, so I started collecting them over the years. Because email distribution is so fractured, I thought I would put the best-of-the-best emails in a book so others could enjoy them.

This collection is aimed at conservative political readers. There's at least two or three people like that in our area. What sort of reader feedback have you received?

The feedback has been good from those who lean to the right of the political aisle. My friends on the left have "voted with their money," by keeping it in their pocket. I don't blame them, as I wouldn't spend good money on a book called, "Rachel Maddow's Favorite Political Knock-Knock Jokes."

What were your criteria for selecting emails to include in the book?

As a fine connoisseur of good humor, I felt I was able to spot the best. I also had to select the material that was not copywritten, because I hate getting "cease and desist" letters in the mail almost as much as I hate getting bills.

When your co-worker, in her blurb on the back of "The Funniest Political Emails ...", says you "wrote" this book, she's speaking euphemistically. Was there anything in the book you actually wrote?

Having been a journalist, I always correct people when they say "I wrote a book" and say, "No, I published a book." I did have to do a lot of editing and writing of the headlines.

What was your process of compiling the book? How long did it take you to put it together and get it printed?

Basically I filed the funniest emails and then, as soon as I had time, I would go back and edit and format them for the book, it took close to a year to compile them into a usable format. Then I worked with the publishing company for about three months for the finished product.

You're a funny guy. What else do you do that's funny? Do you do any stand-up comedy at home or at your church? Gag gifts or pranks on family or friends?

All of the above. My attempts at stand-up have been a little better received (laughter and applause) while emceeing church functions than at home (eye rolling or just plain ignoring me). The funniest gag gift — which backfired on me — was at a recent Christmas party where the gifts are secret and can be stolen by each guest as they unwrap. My wife got stuck with my two books and no one wanted to steal them. Late into the game, another woman finally "mercy stole" the books, but she didn't seem all that happy. I think she liked the $20 bill I slipped inside though.

Do you have advice for anyone else trying to be funny?

Just pick your crowd and pick the moment. I'm trying to help refine my 13-year-old son's comedic timing and use of sarcasm. He's coming along, but I keep telling him there is a fine line between "funny" and "idiotic," and I've seen both sides plenty.

Did you learn anything about yourself while writing this book?

I still hate to proof read. When I was a journalist, I simply wanted to write stories and then hand them off to a copy editor. I hate to look at my work over and over. It definitely loses its "funny" after the fifth or sixth read. But don't tell your readers that.

You have a journalism degree, and you've worked in advertising sales (apparently successfully, not that I doubt your ability). And now you have two books to your credit. Are there any other areas of journalism or publishing you hope to tackle?

I actually want to write film scripts. I have a treatment I have been working on for a couple years. I'm very strong when it comes to building the nuts and bolts of a story, but I get hung up on the major twist and the best way to resolve the story. I hope to collaborate with someone on it someday and see it on the screen. I think writing as part of a team of people would be incredible.

One of my favorite funny lines is early in the book, where it says, "No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical ..." I like the irony of objecting to anyone electronically transmitting A COLLECTION OF EMAILS. Are there any sections of the book that strike you as particularly funny?

I think the bumper sticker quotes in the book are some of the best, like, "Obamacare: The Efficiency of the DMV, The Compassion of the IRS."

Have your political views changed over time, or have you always been on the, um, right side?

I've always leaned right, I guess, being brought up in a conservative home by Bible-believing parents, but I've tried to not just go along with party lines simply because my voter card says Republican. I'm trying to teach my son to think critically about all aspects of a problem and then use Godly standards to take a position. He attends a Christian school and will often hear statements people make and simply copy-cat that opinion. I try and challenge him a little and make him think through all perspectives. I think not thinking critically is a big reason we have such political divides in our country right now.

I see you're not a fan of President Obama or Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and I didn't see any emails denigrating Republicans in your collection. Are you antagonistic to politicians in general, or specifically to Democrats?

No, I would have been more balanced in the approach, but most of the material for this book was collected during President Obama's administration. My approach is "funny is funny." I laughed at all the good-natured humor poked at President Bush. I covered politicians for a while as a journalist and know that there are some good ones and some bad ones in both parties. President Obama and many figures he aligns with are pretty far left and I am pretty far right, so I can either be upset by every policy or just try to laugh through some of it and pray for our country and its leaders. I choose the latter.

I would hope most readers would just laugh and stop and think about some of the lessons in there. I know people have different perspectives on things and that's fine, but when it's time to vote for our leaders, you really need to think about the issues and being willing to intelligently defend the way you vote and the people you help put in charge.

Are you working on another writing project?

I am not. My life is so busy with my family, career and the time I give to my church and son's school, that I can't imagine working on a project right now. However, moving forward on faith-based movie treatments would be where I would spend that time, if it were available.

Two blurbs on the back of "The Funniest Political Emails ..." mention the wish to capture your giggle or "annoying laugh" in this book. Have you considered adding a laugh track to your next book? Maybe like those greeting cards that make a sound when you open them?

Hoops and Yoyo beat me to it, although hearing my laugh recorded, I believe I have them beat on the annoying-laugh-o-meter.

Is "The Funniest Political Emails ..." available in bookstores in our area? Where? If not, how can a reader buy a copy or an e-copy of the book?

A few places have it on the shelf. My friends at Spa Warehouse in Hagerstown have it at the counter and Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro has a few copies. Otherwise, paperback or e-copies can be purchased through my website:

—  Chris Copley, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Ken Garber, a sales director from Hagerstown, has published his second book, "The Funniest Political Emails I Read While My Boss Thought I Was Working."

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