presents... Interesting Motherfucker: (noun)
An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.

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John Kennedy Toole

By John Saleeby

So, what's the funniest novel you've ever read? Well, what's the best novel you've ever read? Okay, what novel you have, at least, read? What? You've never read a novel but you're reading Acid Logic? You've never read F. Scott Fitzgerald but you've got time for Wil Forbis? You think F. Scott Fitzgerald woulda shown you "his" for a nickel?

But seriously, what's the funniest novel ever? Huh? "Catch 22"? I knew that "seriously" was a mistake. "Catch 22" is okay, but it's a big anti-war thing and now that we don't have a World Trade Center anymore you'd have to be Phil Donahue to think that's funny. "Portnoy's Complaint"? Hey, I'm not anti-semetic but I got more laughs out of "Mein Kampf" than "Portnoy's Complaint". And don't tell me anything about Mark Twain - You only think he's funny because they taught you that in Junior High School. Not only have you never read "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court", you're not even sure if it was written by Mark Twain or Charles Dickens. Dickens - Now that's funny! His name, I mean, not anything he ever wrote. But I undress - I mean, digress. Sure, Twain was the kind of guy you'd like to hang around with, but now he's dead and you're alive and never the Twain shall meet. Ha ha ha! Now that's some funny shit! And if you wanna read a novel that will deliver that kind of fun from top to bottom there's only one title to remember next time you go to the bookstore to get a great big ass cup of coffee and follow girls around until they complain to the staff and the Security Guards escort you to the parking lot - "A Confederacy Of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. Yes, even though it is just a matter of time until they decide to ban it from the public libraries because of the presence of the word "Confederacy" in the title, all the smart people who go to parties to talk real loud about books while I'm sitting at home alone actually reading the damn things agree that "A Confederacy Of Dunces" is The Funniest Novel Ever!

I always like to go where no man has ever gone before - Like the inside of Redbook magazine - so I thought I would write a John Kennedy Toole article about what a funny guy he was instead of the usual maudlin slop about how he committed suicide because he couldn't get his book published and then his Mom worked her fingers to the bone for years and years sending her Beloved Dead  Son's Book to everybody in the publishing business until Louisiana State University Press published it in 1980. Yeah, yeah, yeah, if it wasn't for Mrs. Toole "Confederacy" never would have been published - Big Deal, my comic novel "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" has never been published, I ain't losin' no sleep over it (Anytime I can't sleep I just read a few pages of "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" and I nod right out. By the way, I have also written a military history of why the Confederacy lost the Civil War entitled "You Can't Fight With A Stick Up Your Ass"). And even if I did kill myself, do you think my Mom would spend one minute trying to get somebody to publish anything her Tormented Genius Of A Son wrote? Hell, The Collected Papers Of John Saleeby would hit the trash can quicker than the copy of Penthouse she found under my bed when I was sixteen. Hold on, I gotta go check the copy of Penthouse under my bed real quick. Okay! Hey, now that I'm looking at it, why not . . . I'll be right back, folks. Oh no! I had my analysis of Toole's use of dialogue as a character development technique written on that piece of tissue paper! Damn!

"A Confederacy Of Dunces" is set in my hometown of New Orleans and . . . What? Oh, yeah - Toole was from there, too if you've just got to wallow in trivia . . . and I can't tell you how grateful we all are for an alternative to that damn "Streetcar Named Desire". Is it a more accurate portrayal of life in New Orleans? I dunno - At least it don't have Marlon Brando making with all that horrible Sylvester Stallone - Bruce Springsteen Method Guido bullshit. New Orleans ain't Brooklyn On The Bayou, but no real New Orleans writer will ever tell you what the place is really like any more than a Bourbon Street strip club doorman is gonna hand out the phone numbers of the girls inside. You wanna find out about the place you gotta show the hell up, pay your money, and learn for yourself. We don't give a crap. You know how oblivious we are of what other people think of us in New Orleans? Until that Dennis Quaid - Ellen Barkin movie came out a few years ago we had no idea everybody in the South was calling us "The Big Easy" behind our back. And to this day we're not entirely sure what the hell they mean by it cause we can't understand what the hell those retards are talking about any better than people from up North or out West can.

There's a John Kennedy Toole biography by Rene Nevils and Deborah Hardy called "Ignatius Rising" (Referring to the name of "Confederacy's main character, Ignatius J. Reilly.) but when I went to the bookstore it was nowhere to be found and the Security Guards were escorting me out to the parking lot before I could ask the staff about it. So I got online to do some research and lost complete interest in "Ignatius Rising" when I read this sentence in an article about the book called "No Dunce: John Kennedy Toole's Wacky, Tortured, And Gay Life" on The Global Gay And Lesbian Network (No, we are not going to provide a link to it. Although it would be funny if we pretended to so when you click on it you go to The Andrew  Dice Clay Fan Club Web Site or Christian Cookin' With Jerry Falwell) - "Rene Nevils and Deborah Hardy met in an LSU writing class taught by Andre Codrescu." "LSU"? "Writing class"? "Andre Codrescu"? Hey, why not work "Leprosy" and "Billy Joel" in there to make things even more unpleasant?

Yeah, Toole was gay, but after all that carrying on about his Mother and suicide you probably already had that figured out. I thought sticking one end of a hose into the exhaust pipe of your car and bringing the other end inside the car with you was a pretty gay way of doing yourself in compared to blowing your head off with a shotgun like Ernest Hemingway. But then I remembered that the shotgun thing had been queered up by Kurt Cobain a while ago (That low life was probably getting high sucking on exhaust pipes so long he had an immunity to diesel fumes, anyway). Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, John Kennedy Toole - All the Big Name New Orleans writers were gay. Straight guy New Orleans writers don't need anybody reading our stuff - We just write to keep our minds off the women carrying on all the time about how well the gay guys are doing up in New York. Then we get drunk and take all our books and plays and stories and set fire to 'em out in the street laughing and hollering "DAT'S HOW MUCH WE FUCKIN' CARE ABOUT WHAT ANYBODY IN FUCKIN' NEW YORK THINKS ABOUT ANYTHING!!! HAHAHA!! THAT'S HOW MUCH WE CARE!!!"   And when the women get started on them black jazz musicians we form Jethro Tull cover bands and pass out in the garage.

But I'm not putting down The Love That Won't Shut The  Fuck Up here, Toole's Big Problem was that he spent too much time going to school. My feelings on the matter of Higher  Education are best summed up by the Great American Songwriter Paul Westerberg's all time masterpiece "Fuck School", the climactic verse of which goes -
Fuck my school
Fuck my school
What's the matter, buddy?
Fuck you!

Hold on a minute. I'm kinda choked up. Anybody got a hankie? There. Anyway, who says you gotta go to college to get anywhere? Paul Westerberg didn't even graduate from high school! I dropped outta LSU cause the psychic vibes of dozens of professors living in constipating fear that someone might catch on that they never actually did anything left me incapable of anything but cheering "From Top To Bottom, From Beginning To End, A Warm Bowl Of Butter Is A Lobster's Best Friend!!" in the middle of History lectures. Toole, unfortunately, was Stranded In The Blackboard Jungle - He went to Tulane in New Orleans (Further evidence of homosexuality. That joke's for my Dad! ), Columbia in New York, taught at the University Of Southeastern Louisiana in Lafayette, then went back to New York to teach at Hunter College and study some more at Columbia and then he went back to New Orleans to teach at Dominican - HOLY COLUMBINE! It's enough to make you grab a rifle and head for the nearest campus belltower.

Fuck school, "A Confederacy Of Dunces" is so damn funny cause Toole wrote it in an atmosphere where a young guy can really go nuts - In Puerto Rico with the US Army. Lemmee tell ya, I was in Panama with the Army in 1984 - 86 and life overseas in the peacetime Army is a non stop Animal House Blast. I started drinking down there and didn't stop til I turned thirty in '91. Toole was away from his Mom in a completely different scene from that classroom jazz, and - That most rare of human experiences - having a good time. Inspired, Our Hero borrowed a typewriter from a friend (Who, after reading "Ignatius Rising" years later, declared "I didn't know he was THAT gay!") and wrote The Funniest Novel Ever.

And then he couldn't get it published so he committed suicide. I don't mean to be crude, but this dude was scrude - For cryin' out loud, it was the SIXTIES and this guy was at the end of his rope just because some squarehead New York editor didn't want to publish his book? John Kennedy Toole was one of the funniest men in America at a time when there were more opportunities for intelligent comedy talent than any period in our country's history. There is an infinite list of things he could have done if, instead of inhaling all that exhaust, he had just hit the road for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. What? Yeah, okay, I knew you Pixies wouldn't let me get away with it - And Boston, too. Hell, if there wasn't very much of a comedy scene in New Orleans when I was coming up it's because the funniest guy to ever live in the place had to pussy out and commit suicide on us. New Orleans could have been the funniest place in the whole wide world but NOOOOOOOOOOOOO, John Kennedy Toole had to kill himself because the Pinheads in New Fuckin' York wouldn't give him his Big Break!

Nobody ever goes into details - Guess it's one of those "Ya hadda be there" things like when old people start raving about how great "The Sid Caesar Show" was back in the fifties - but "John Kennedy Toole LIVE!!!" was a Gen-u-ine Laff Riot and having read "A Confederacy Of  Dunces" I don't doubt it for one minute. His book sure is funnier than all the garbage by Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and George  Carlin cluttering up the Humor Section at Barnes And Noble. Instead of killing himself Toole shoulda went to some hipster jazz club in The French Quarter and put together a stand up act out of the raw material of "A Confederacy Of Dunces". By the mid sixties he would have been as big as Bill Cosby and  Woody Allen and starring on the CBS hit sit com "Ignatius The Freak". Are gay guys allowed to go into show business? Maybe he could have gotten away with it if he found a really good looking woman - Maybe an actress - to pretend to be his girlfriend or maybe even marry him. It just might work. Millions of kids all over America would have been sitting around reading Ignatius Comics instead of listening to The Beatles and turning into dope fiends, America would have won the Vietnam War, and I'd be fucking Jill Hennessy while my wife Katie Couric was at work paying the bills. Man, did Toole let us down or did he let us down?

But Toole couldn't do stand up in the Quarter because his Mother would not have approved of it anymore than Ignatius' Mother approved of him pushing a hot dog cart around the Quarter. And there is the sad fantasy "A Confederacy Of Dunces" was for the poor schmuck who wrote it - Ignatius may have been a total loser but one thing he can do that Toole never could is stand up to his Mother. Mrs. Reilly is a Harpie Monster Nag and, by all accounts, based entirely on the reality of Mrs. Toole. Where Ignatius blows any chance of making something of himself by refusing to listen to his Mother,  for Toole there was only one way and that was Mom's Way. And the only alternative to Mom's Way was . . . DEATH!!! DUHH DUHH BUHH DUHH!!*

Which might be sad if you are the kind of worm that feels sorry for people that commit suicide. Me, I figure if they have that little regard for human life they could have killed me as easily as themselves - Screw em. My God, maybe if Toole hadn't killed himself all those years ago the New Orleans tourist industry would have been brought to it's knees by The Bloody Reign Of THE BOURBON STREET BUTCHER!!!

"Nobody wanted to publish my book - " the killer of more than ninety six tourists over the span of four decades raved as detectives lead him away "- and I had to make the world pay!!!"

But I'd still find a way to get Jill Hennessy naked.

*Courtesy Of The "Taxi Driver" Soundtrack By Bernard Herrmann.


John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email -

Meet some other Interesting Motherfuckers:

Ray Walston by John Saleeby
From My Favorite Martian to Mr. Hand.
Mitch Hedberg
by John Saleeby
The last of the comedy greats!
Al Jafee
by Wil Forbis
Mad Magazine's cartoon master.
GG Allin
by Wil Forbis
Even punks loathed the performer who pushed past the bouderies.
David Allan Coe by Wil Forbis
Country's obscene outlaw walks the line.
Bernie Casey by John Saleeby
The blaxploitation star who rose from the ghetto of professional football.
Bret Easton Ellis by Tom Waters
Peruse the critical overview and interview with the fiction superstar.
Phil Lynott by Wil Forbis
Thin Lizzy's frontman rose from the streets of Ireland to the heights of rock stardom and then descended into the pit of drug abuse.
Louis CK by Sean C Tarry
Marvel at this stand up's ability to phrase the opposite of every song.
Sho Kosugi by Wil Forbis
Fear the power of the Ninja! Fear it, Bitch!
Bill Hicks by Cody Wayne
The mind expanding comedian gets his due.
Warren Zevon by Xander Horlyk
A literary look at "a moralist in cynic's clothing."
Pam Grier by John Saleeby
Sweet Christmas! It's the queen of blaxploitation, Foxy Brown herself!
Jack Webb by John Saleeby
When he created the elite police unit of "Dragnet," Jack Webb laid the first blow against the scourge of America: Hippies!
Doris Wishman by Wil Forbis
The prolific adult film maker, whose work includes the classic Chesty Morgan movies, is probed and prodded.
Dave Thomas by John Saleeby
Wendy's Dave Thomas was all about Biggie Fries, Frosties and love.
Spike Milligan by John Saleeby
Read up on the life of the British comedy scribe.
Toshiro Mifune by Wil Forbis
The Japanese actor who slashed his way through a thousand samurai movies.
Nina Hagen by Wil Forbis
The Wagnerian Banshee who created the blueprint for punk/funk/opera.

Bob and Tommy Stinson by John Saleeby
Get to know the real talents of eighties punk sensations, The Replacements.

Tom Savini by John Saleeby
The king of latex gore.

And there's even more on our main page!

Additional John Kennedy Toole Material:

Student Commentary on Confederacy from a bunch of know it all Vanderbilt students
So this is what college punks do why the rest of us have real jobs.

The Lost Soul Companion
A site that uses Toole's miserable life to argue that people shouldn't kill themselves. Hey you - get away from that exhaust pipe!

Want to read Confederacy of Dunces? Buy the damn thing from Powells!

Review of "Ignatius Rising"

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