Charles Demers’s The Horrors

Unpleasant comedic truths.

In his third book, The Horrors: An A to Z of Funny Thoughts on Awful Things, Canadian comedian Charles Demers explores the defining traumas of his life through a series of abecedarian essays in which no topic is too sensitive. Be it “F for Fat,” “H for Heteronormativity,” or even “M for Motherlessness,” Demers approaches each subject with earnestness and irony, finding hilarity in hapless misfortune. His litany of qualms comes across as endearing—never cantankerous. For instance, when discussing his mental health, Demers specifies: “My OCD was a lot less Each-Of-These-Cookies-Better-Have-The-Same-Amount-Of-Chocolate-Chips-Or-I’m-Sorta-Gonna-Lose-It-LOL! and a lot more Spending-My-Entire-Adolescence-and-Young-Adulthood-Wrongly-Worried-That-I-Might-Be-A-Pedophile-Or-Will-Somehow-Contaminate-People-With-My-Toxicity.” Reading raw, self-aware quips that speak to deep human anxieties is refreshing; after all, comedy is most resonant when it exposes seemingly unspeakable truths. Once deemed (along with sketch-comedy partner Paul Bae) to be “the future of comedy” by the late Robin Williams, Demers’s dark wit encourages us to stare down and laugh at the most horrible things.