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Book Report: 'Grandma's Dead; Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals'

Posted January 27, 2009 - By TylerColfax

There's no question that funny phrases slapped on pictures is a huge internet phenomenon, and while it's all well and good, memes don't tend to bring any income to their creator. So, how do you take something that is wildly successful and turn it into something physical and consumable on a more palpable level?

Leave it to seasoned writers and comedians Amanda McCall and Ben Schwartz to notice the cute animal picture fad on the webs and put their own spin on it in book form. Amanda, author of Hold My Gold: A White Girl's Guide to the Hip-Hop World smashed her creative brain with Ben who has been a staff writer for Robot Chicken as well as a freelancer for Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update and The Late Show with David Letterman.

We were able to track Ben down through his "Funny or Die" profile and ask him a few questions:

Ty Colfax: What was the spark that kicked this idea off?
Ben Schwartz: Amanda McCall and I got together with the purpose of writing a book. We tossed around a bunch of ideas and the one we liked the most was the idea of a book that allowed the reader to break bad news with adorable animals (the internet is going INSANE over adorable animal pictures,) so it wouldn't hurt as much.

TC: Why make it a book of postcards?
BS: We made it postcard books because we love the idea that in essence, you can use the postcard book as an actual tool to help you with your life. There is nothing stopping you from ripping out the postcard that reads "You're my least favorite child" and sending it to your annoying son.

TC: How did you take the idea from project to project published by a major publisher?
BS: When we had the idea we went to different agents and luckily found one that totally understood what we were trying to do. We drew up a proposal, sent it to him, he sent it around and we were lucky to find that Harper Collins totally got what were trying to do as well.

TC: Do you and Amanda collaborate on anything else?
BS: Amanda and I are writing the next baby animals postcard book entitled Asking Awkward Questions with Baby Animals. We have looked at over 300,000 photos of baby animals to find the right ones to match up with our sentences. After 300,000 photos, we officially want to kill any puppy or kitten that crosses our path.

TC: What's your favorite bit from Robot Chicken that you worked on?
BS: There are some fun ones that got cut at the last second that are on the dvd extras that i liked a lot...one with Walt Disney drawing Mickey Mouse, and one with Santa getting pulled over by a cop for drinking and driving. I am proud of all the sketches that I got on but my favorite bit would probably be "Pee Wee's Secret Word" or "Doug at a Bar."  I was a big fan of Robot Chicken even before I got hired, so it was exciting to see any of my stuff brought to life. Here's a link to all the sketches I worked on that got to air - RejectedJokes.com.

Take it from me, this book is hilarious and would make a great Valentine's Day gift for that quirky chick you're trying to impress. You can buy and/or preview Grandma's Dead at the usual online places and bookstores in your area. It's also available at an Urban Outfitters near you and always remember...

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