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While the majority of topics in Pumping Irony: Working Out the Angst of a Lifetime, a collection of Sunday Style columns by Washington Post sports columnist Tony Kornheiser, play to his steak-munching, cigar-chomping audience, don’t be fooled by this pandering to guyville. He archly mentions a “gerund” in the book’s introduction, a term guaranteed to make his audience scratch its collective belly in confusion.
Kornheiser is an intelligent, vociferous, and hilarious critic of Washington and the sports world’s elite, though he routinely floats between hoi polloi and the hoity-toity, admitting in one piece, “I’m an egomaniac and a TV whore….I’d do commercials for adult diapers.” Like David Letterman, Kornheiser can make fun of others because he constantly pokes fun at himself. In the title piece, Kornheiser’s fitness trainer asks if has ever lifted weights: “I told him I was pretty sure I could get 205 pounds off the ground. Then I jumped in the air.” He’s not quite so amenable to ridicule by others: He wouldn’t talk to Washington City Paper because of numerous vicious “News Bites” columns a while back. Still, he needn’t be so wary—those articles did not necessarily represent the views of every CP staffer.
Kornheiser’s writing is all spazzy energy. He makes constant use of the word “fabulous,” jokes with the copy desk, and invokes a reappearing cast of characters including “my friend Gino,” “my friend Nancy,” and even “my smart friend Martha.” But these tendencies don’t irritate the reader, and instead play as an invitation to his, uh, fabulous world (Hey, as Kornheiser’s mantra says, “we kid because we love”).