2 minutes to show time! Romance? Check. Comedy? Check. Midlife crises, workplace antics, big feels and feminism? CHECK!
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Why I love it
Actress, Walker and House
I always love to read a book that operates entirely by its own rules, ready to play with genres and follow its story wherever it can take readers. Enter Curtis Sittenfeld’s excellent new novel Romantic Comedy: a workplace comedy meets modern epistolary novel featuring a compelling midlife romance AND a cross-country roadtrip. And despite these many ingredients, it remains entertaining and fleet-footed throughout. It’s a perfect breezy welcome to spring and delightful company to the very last page.
At the center of this story is Sally Milz, a sketch writer for late-night live comedy show The Night Owls (think SNL). Her job is demanding but rewarding, and she even has an Emmy to show for her efforts. But Sally has been less lucky in love and has mostly given up on romance, having notched her fill of failed relationships. Then one week while working on a sketch with the show’s latest host—Noah Brewster, a mega popstar—despite herself Sally begins to flirt a bit with possibilities (and Noah). That is until one overly harsh remark from Sally threatens to put their budding relationship on permanent ice . . .
Like any good comedy sketch, Romantic Comedy lands plenty of punchlines and has lots to say about “how we live now.” But more than that, it’s a compelling story about learning to push past self-doubt and recognize those ready to love us just as we are. And who couldn’t use a bit more of that in their life?
Sally Milz is a sketch writer for “The Night Owls,” the late-night live comedy show that airs each Saturday. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love, settling instead for the occasional hook-up, career success, and a close relationship with her stepfather to round out a satisfying life.
But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actor who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women. Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch called the “Danny Horst Rule,” poking fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman.
Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder whether there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy; it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her . . . right?