It’s true that I worked with David Schmader for years at The Stranger, and it’s true that I’m proud to call him my friend. But there is a part of my brain—the part that tingles when it comes across a sufficiently beautiful sentence—that is still in awe of his writing ability. If you haven’t read his now-defunct “Last Days” column or seen his live Showgirls performance, you might think it’s hyperbole when I say that Schmader is the single funniest man I’ve ever met. But it’s true. And he’s not funny just because he blurts out observations that will strip the paint off walls with their truth—though he does that, too.
Schmader is funny because he’s a great writer who knows how to coax the maximum effect out of a sentence. Consider this line from his final “Last Days” column: “How many stories of babies being microwaved can readers withstand before being driven to sterilize themselves and throw away their microwaves?” Now bask in the fact that 99.7 percent of all professional writers would have stopped that sentence immediately after “sterilize themselves” without thinking to add the gorgeous excess of throwing away the microwave? It’s the perfect pratfall on which to finish a sentence that begins with a truly horrific image. Jokes like this don’t just happen automatically; they’re work, and Schmader is a master crafter of those microwave-tossing moments.
Happily, we now have an entire book of Schmader’s to keep in our homes. Weed: The User’s Guide is an encyclopedia of marijuana history, use, and culture for those questions you’re afraid to ask at your friendly neighborhood pot shop. (Is dabbing the same as hot knives? And, uh, while we’re at it, what the hell is hot knives?) Schmader says he intended to make the book a classy, useful everyday guide—more like one of those fancy leatherbound guides to scotch than the pun-festooned High Times-style romps you’ll find in the alternative-culture section of your local bookstore. He succeeded. The book is hilarious and entertaining and thoroughly Schmader-y.
You now have multiple opportunities to see Schmader read from Weed: The User’s Guide onstage. On 4/20, he’s collaborating with the film-collage geniuses at Collide-O-Scope to present some of the trippiest moments in movie history at the Egyptian Theater with special guests and gift giveaways. On Friday the 22nd, he’ll present a big launch party for his book at Town Hall with guests including Dan Savage, KEXP DJ Riz, cartoonist Ellen Forney, poet Sarah Galvin, and former Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, with music from special guest Spekulation. And then on May 1 at Hugo House, Schmader’s presenting a a night of autobiographical readings to an audience that he hopes will show up (responsibly) high. That’s an impressive and diverse slate of public events in a compact amount of time. Obviously, you should go to all three. E
The Egyptian, 805 E. Pine St., 324-9996, siff.net. $4.20. All ages. 7 p.m.
Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.