I discovered Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by delightful accident. Patton Oswalt, the lonely schlub Spence from King of Queens is a favorite stand up comedian of mine, and one of the few working comedians today who can give Louis CK a run for his money. However, I was pretty skeptical about the book. Even the best comedians have a sad history of transcribing their act down on paper and calling it a book in a lazy and transparent cash-grab — remember Seinlanguage? But, I grabbed Zombie Spaceship Wastelandanyway. I knew I could count on a few disposable laughs, and then figured I would go my way.The book consists of essays chronicling Oswalt’s journey from awkward, pre-adolescent, Star Wars acolyte to his early days wandering the barren roads of the comedy circuit, in no particular order. My personal favorite, “Ticket Booth,” accounts Oswalt’s high school days working in a locally owned multiplex. This tale best exemplifies the author’s potent mixture of hilarious prose and soul crushing insight into the complexities and inroads of the human psyche. Oswald can send the gut reeling and keep a sardonic tone, even when dealing with world of local theater:
Who would rise to take the reins at the Towncenter 3? Who would push through the double glass doors of the street-level entrance and stomp his way down the stairs, like Gene Simmons and Wilt Chamberlain about to set a basement full of uppity pussy straight?
Still, the world felt bounded. Uncle Pete was the first one ever to heave open the gates that sealed ancient pages and make me suspect there were worlds within and without the world I was in. That there were worlds outside of the time I was living in. All of this he carried against his will, in his head. But unlike the other adults, with their resentments and their anxiousness or anger, he seemed eternally, uncontrollably entertained. I really envied him.