There is only one person in the world who can inspire both praise for his actions and writing and major criticism for his life choices, being referred to as a “vile, scummy, abrasive creature that barely qualifies as human.” This comment is proudly displayed on the back cover of his newest book, Hilarity Ensues.
That person is none other than Tucker Max, who has made a name for himself over the past eight years. He began by launching his website tuckermax.com. Then Max marketed his most outrageous stories of drunken debauchery, quests for meaningless hook-ups, and just plain bad behavior in a 2006 memoir, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, a 2009 movie of the same name, a 2010 follow-up book, Assholes Finish First, and finally capped off his achievements with Hilarity Ensues.
Unfortunately for Max, either some of the stories in Hilarity Ensues just don’t inspire much hilarity, or they’ve become a bit stale and played out over time. While his final chapters are still entertaining and showcase some witty writing, his stories this time around seem to lack some of the flavor and spice that made his first ones comedy classics and full of “did he really do that?!” moments.
The first story that really rates with the ones in Max’s first books is “The TMZ Debacle.” Max begins by telling the story of his antics at last year’s SXSW, where he was thrown out of a party by three bouncers for throwing Popchips at a ceiling fan, but events quickly become much more entertaining from there. Max writes, “Then, the next day, TMZ emailed me asking for a comment about ‘getting kicked out of a SXSW party and calling some girl a greasy guido.’ What? I couldn’t believe it. After all the ridiculous shit I’ve done in my life, THIS is what TMZ wants to do a story on?”
Other stories worth reading include “The (Almost Banned, Now Complete) Miss Vermont Story,” and “Tucker Max, Knee Abuser.” Also laughter inducing are his various recounts of sexting conversations interspersed throughout the book and grouped into three categories of “absurd,” “mean,” and “a/s/location, location, location.” However, the rest of the book just doesn’t quite live up to the expectations faithful readers of his first two books might have had for it. The stories might still provide a chuckle or two, but there are no real moments of complete lose-control, jaw-dropping, tear-streaming, knee-slapping laughter.
The one part of Hilarity Ensues that truly does make it stand above its prior installments is Max’s reflections and note to his fans about his retirement at the end of the book. Here, fans do get to see a different side of Max—one that shows that he’s not just a womanizer or a self-described asshole, but also a real human being who does have a softer side he’s just not as willing to show. It’s a nice way to wrap up the book (which, at 443 pages of stories is actually a hefty read), and actually manages to reward readers for sticking through it all with him until the very end.