Here's a New York Observer article about the great John Hodgman. (Via Mike Gerber.)
"He speaks in perfect sentences, and he had the dry, mature, man-in-a-smoking-jacket wit of an 80-year-old Oxford don when he was 25," said novelist Elizabeth Gilbert. "John pretends sometimes to be a cranky and grumpy person when he is actually compassionate and optimistic."
"John's events feature many of the same performers as from the hipster literary scene, but there's a much homier, warmer, more communal vibe," said writer Neal Pollack. "John is the real draw: He's a perfect host and a perfect gentleman."
"I was born at the age of about 45," Mr. Hodgman said. The only child of a businessman and a nurse in Brookline, Mass., young John had asthma and liked to watch Mary Tyler Moore and read Tintin books. "I was ruthlessly responsible and well-liked by all adults, which allowed me opportunity for subversion," he said. At Brookline High, he carried around a briefcase and co-edited a humor magazine that featured short stories about self-mutilation and X-rated comics.
At Yale, he took a class with literary critic Harold Bloom.
"As we all know, the man is a maniac," he said. "He has perhaps the largest brain on the planet.... It was really Bloom who taught me to be a comedian."
In the mid-1990's, Mr. Hodgman worked his way up to becoming a literary agent at Writers House. In 1997, George Plimpton edited a story of his for The Paris Review ("one of those life-altering moments"). In 2000, he turned most of his attention to writing, including a 13-part advice column on the McSweeney's Web site called "Ask the Former Professional Literary Agent."
Now he writes regularly for Men's Journal about booze and food, and occasionally for The New York Times Magazine. He recently sold a book, The Areas of My Expertise, which will be filled with "amazing historical true facts" (e.g., U.S. Presidents who had hooks for hands). "I would say the amount of true material is roughly zero," he added.
Here's an interview with the great man.
Here's a monologue that Mr. Hodgman presented at one of his Little Gray Book lectures.