Picks and Pans Review: Idiot Letters: One Man's Relentless Assault on Corporate America

updated 08/07/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/1995 01:00AM

by Paul Rosa

Dumbness is a profitable commodity these days: Just ask the producers of Forrest Gump or Jim Carrey's agent. Or just ask Paul Rosa, the Colorado stand-up comic who managed to get a publisher for this collection of sophomoric letters to U.S. corporations. In the epistolary equivalent of the Jerky Boys' prank phone calls, Rosa pestered companies with inane questions like, "Is it okay to use your deodorant on my forehead?" and "Do the souls of exterminated rodents go to heaven?"

Amazingly, more than 150 companies wrote back. Most sent corporate-speak brush-offs, but some of Rosa's sillier letters drew ridiculously serious replies. His suggestion to a Maytag executive that the lonely repairman on TV be fired is met with, "It's a good cost-savings idea," while his complaint to the telephone company U.S. West that white pages are racist and should be issued in other skin tones elicits, "We pride ourselves on having a diverse employment body."

Rosa asks Oprah to give him 18 minutes' worth of her salary so he can travel ("Oprah wishes you the best"), suggests major league baseball spice up the game by coating random areas of the field with slippery Pam cooking spray ("Your proposal is interesting"), and tries to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by reporting that he carried around his cat for a year ("Peculiarities are not necessarily records"). Some of this is clever, though not nearly as inspired as the Jerky Boys' outrageous calls. Which is to say, Idiot Letters isn't dumb enough. (Doubleday, $7.95)

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