“All in all, from start to finish, it’s always a great experience.” – Jonathan Ames
At Happy Ending, authors are required to TAKE ONE PUBLIC RISK. This means they must do something on stage that they have never done before. Here are a handful of the risks people have taken.
Lena Dunham prank called her mother, pretending she was an old college friend who’d just experienced a “recovered memory” that involved her.
Etgar Keret smoked an entire joint onstage
Jessica Anthony sang “What a Feelin’” in sign language
Zadie Smith took a shot equal to the number on rolled dice. The number was 6.
Hannah Pittard Skyped her mother to admit she’d had sex
Lucy Corin gave a science lecture without understanding her lecture topic
Michael Cunningham gave a five minute lecture on the entire history of English literature.
Julie Orringer played “2 second animal,” with the audience, a game she made up on an airplane
Ryan Harty breathed fire
Nell Freudenberger got a pie in the face
Kevin Wilson read obituaries he wrote for himself in high school. Each one cast him as a man of great importance in fields as varied as football and movie star
Jennifer Egan drew candid pictures of the performers in action.
Sarah Manguso read her intake form from the hospital
Andrew Sean Greer swapped entire outfits with a female audience volunteer, onstage!
Jonathan Caouette gave everyone his home address and telephone number
Colson Whitehead read pop-culture Haikus he wrote (and showed off how much he was sweating).
Tanguy Viel recreated his junior high graph that charted his friendships
Victor Lodato read from his book after sucking in helium
Manil Suri did a Bollywood dance number in full costume
Paul Harding read his one star Amazon reviews
Noy Holland balanced spoons off her nipples
Paul La Farge ate a tub of wasabi
Laurie Sandell read her unbearably pretentious college essay, aloud.
Brian Selznick recreated a song and dance number from a high school play
Jonathan Ames kissed David Cross on the mouth
David Cross kissed Jonathan Ames on the mouth
Nathaniel Rich played recordings of the band he had at age 9, “2 Live Moo”
Lauren Groff took a drink onstage
Stephen Elliott made out with a stranger from the audience
Elissa Schappell took a cartwheel.
A.M. Homes speed-dated 4 members of the audience
Richard Price told a personal story about his family
Ian Chillag had a legally blind audience member cut his hair onstage
Benjamin Percy bench-pressed the host, Amanda Stern
Rattawut Lapcharoensap taught the audience Thai cheers.
Zadie Smith drew a self-portrait on her pregnant belly
John Wray told Michiko Kakutani a thing or two
James Salter read from his 1972 journal when he was writing Light Years.
Aimee Bender improvised a story telling session, by telling a fairy tale in the style of Mad Libs. She used the audience members as the part of speech participants.
Lauren Groff batoned her heart out.
Rick Moody sang acapella a song he had written recently.
Trinie Dalton undressed.
John Lurie played harmonica for the first time on stage in 35 years.
Wells Tower baked and handed out bacon and chocolate chip cookies
Arthur Philips lived out his long time dream of being a matador.
Danzy Senna took volunteers from the audience to act out scenes from L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology manual.
Ben Greenman read aloud his pin codes and credit card numbers .
Lowell Handler told Tourette jokes . Lowell Handler has Tourette syndrome.
Laurie Anderson did a Power Point presentation
Jim Shephard revealed a portrait made of his as an awkward adolescent.