Tickets to Allie Brosh’s reading in San Francisco last night were free, but limited to the first 100 takers. Takers took them quickly. Brosh is the writer, illustrator, and personality behind Hyperbole and Half, which is either the most amazingly transcendent thing on the Internet right now (if you’ve heard of it) or not (if not).
I felt undeserving of my ticket, like everyone else wanted to be there more than I did. One couple showed up in stained, threadbare, full-body dinosaur costumes–a nod to Brosh’s story “Menace.” Someone else wore a rainbow wig and rainbow tights. Hyperbole and Half is one of those things, like Burning Man or vodka & cough syrup, that cause normal people to let their freak flag fly.
The reading was short. Brosh performed “The God of Cake” while projecting her illustrations on a screen behind her. They hold up well at giant size—her wacked-out colors and dangly limbs have a kind of monstrous beauty. The book is a bit of a monster, too—384 pages long, full color throughout, available in either hardcover or paperback. I heard someone say the reading in Portland lasted 6 hours because Brosh “really took her time” speaking to every single person who came to her table afterward for a signed copy.
If you’re looking for an Internet celebrity role model, Allie Brosh is a good choice. She looks like Kristen Bell, relates to her fans like Jennifer Lawrence, and has a sense of humor like Patton Oswalt. But her work is the star of the show.
Blending memoir, stand-up comedy, and cartoon storyboards, Brosh presents her childhood self as a saggy bag of water, animated only by the thin lines of rage, madness, and glee that she emanates. We know this character. She’s the seven-year-old sociopath that we all used to be. Brosh’s stories remind us—chillingly, thrillingly—that the little monster never went away. She’s inside us, ready to break out.
– Brian Hurley