Cassie’s Book Review: A BAD IDEA I’M ABOUT TO DO

Comedian and writer Chris Gethard has led a colored existence. This comedic look at his own life details his experiences from childhood to adulthood, with all manner of wacky adventures in between. From raising a goat for college credits to pursuing amateur wrestling, leading police on high-speed chases, and volunteering for “Scared Straight”, Gethard explores the best and worst of himself for our amusement.

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A Bad Thing I’m About to Do is peppered with stories that contain equal parts ridiculousness and heart. Suffering with debilitating anxiety, an inability to hold a relationship, and a wide range of odd jobs, Gethard is the poster child for schadenfreude. If he weren’t so humorously self-deprecating, this memoir would be a tragedy.

The groundwork for his crazy life started in his homestate of New Jersey, “where profanity is considered a quaint regional dialect”. His father taught him what it meant to be full of anger (he was once almost arrested for chasing down some hooligans) and he learned to enjoy life from his grandfather, who passed the time spreading rumors that Chris’ brother Gregg was homosexual.

In his adolescence he couldn’t help but get in wacky situations due to his own curiosity and inability to say no. He inadvertently volunteered for a “Scared Straight” program at Rahway (AKA East Jersey State Prison), met the lifers, and was threatened with both oral and anal rape. He stumbled with girls, trying to make friends more than friends, and painfully practiced condom use in preparation for losing his virginity. As a female I could have done without the stories related to the male genitalia.

The main reason I connected so much with this novel, was that Gethard and I have a lot in common. We were both born and raised in New Jersey, are Irish, Rutgers alumni, went to Rahway in High School, and have a connection to the magazine Weird NJ (Gethard worked there, I am obsessed with it). The main point of bonding however, if one can bond through a book, came from our shared hatred of Rutgers University.

In this novel, Gethard refers to the institution as “a well-known though overrated college”, which was crowded, dirty, had 400 people classes, bugs, and his view overlooked the malaria ridden Raritan River. In his later years he lived off Ta Ta’s Pizza, which has the distinction of still being the worst pizza in New Brunswick. Not much has changed in this time except that maybe there’s more asbestos in the dorm rooms.

While at Rutgers, Gethard took the most ridiculous class possible, an animal husbandry class that involved raising a goat. Yes, this does exist; a friend of mine raised a pig named Ham Solo (my vote was for Swiney Todd). With the exception of Murder in America and Dinosaurs (which Gethard and I both took), raising an animal to exhibit in the annual Agricultural day is the most asinine class one can take. What he did not expect to find while feeding Cap’n Crunch/goat crack to his female goat, Jeffrey Timmons, World’s Foremost Goat was a good listener. This is the most endearing story in the collection, with Gethard finally finding a nonjudgmental companion to share his soul with. All in all a touching tale of a man and his goat.

Even if you are not a Rutgers alum and have never lived in New Jersey, at its base, A Bad Thing I’m About to Do, is a hilariously relatable memoir about a troubled boy searching for and eventually, awkwardly finding his moments of happiness. Whether they are found through mere wanderlust or testing out his dream of wrestling as the pimp White Magic, Gethard realizes the most comforting thing one can have is a place to call home.

4 Stars

Chris Gethard has often found himself in awkward situations most people, including you, probably would have safely avoided. The good news is now, thanks to this book, you can enjoy the painfully funny consequences of his unfortunate decisions at a safe distance. A Bad Thing I'm About to Do invites readers to join Chris as he navigates an adolescence and adulthood mired in hilariously ill-fated nerdom, and to take comfort in the fact that- as his experiences often prove- things could always be much, much worse.

A Bad Idea I’m About to Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgment and Stunningly Awkward Adventure
By: Chris Gethard
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Price: $16.00
Available Now!