Awesome Men Throughout History: Larry Doyle
I’m almost hesitant to write about this week’s Awesome Man Throughout History—writer and humorist Larry Doyle—because I get the feeling that he would be just fine with complete anonymity. I’ve seen Larry at readings and other events, and he’s not exactly a people person. Not to say that he’s a jerk or anything, but he gives off the impression that he’d much rather be at home writing than out at some dry literary function trying to remember his social graces.
Larry has written two novels; I Love You Beth Cooper in 2007, and Go Mutants! In 2010. I’ve read them both, and they’re great. They both deal with the awkwardness of high school in genuine and hilarious ways. Beth Cooper is about a geeky kid who accidentally reveals his crush on a girl during his valedictorian speech at graduation, and Go Mutants! is about a community full of the children of various sci-fi movie monsters, who of course all attend high school together.
Beth Cooper won the 2008 Thurber Prize for American Humor, and was made into a movie that, to put it one way, was just ungodly terrible. Larry is quick to point out that he personally made way more money from the movie.
However, that’s not all he’s done. Larry frequently publishes in Esquire and the New Yorker, and has written screenplays (including Looney Tunes: Back In Action), as well as scripts for The Simpsons and Beavis & Butthead. How someone transitions between the New Yorker and Beavis & Butthead is anyone’s guess.
Larry jumped onto The Simpsons during its decline, but he did write the episode where Homer gets a helper monkey and almost kills it due to negligence, which is one of my all-time favorites. He also wrote one of my all-time favorite Beavis & Butthead episodes, in which Beavis gets a nosebleed and Butthead tries to stop it by putting a bag on his head and holding him upside down.
Really, Larry is at his best as a writer when he’s capturing teenagers making pointless and often cruel sport of each other, or the struggles of dysfunctional people trying to coexist. Even when he’s being purposely funny and light, his characters are given enough human flaws to keep the humor natural and unforced.
I’ll end with this clip of Baltimore CityLit Project’s Gregg Wilhelm and his heavy regional accent introducing Larry Doyle, who delivered the keynote speech at the 2008 Baltimore Writers’ Conference.
About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.