Andrew Shaffer and Barack Obama (Dion ) at Books are Magic
Andrew Shaffer had a surprise guest at his new Hope Rides Again “Obama Biden Mystery” book tour stop Wednesday night at Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic shop—Barack Obama.
Well, not the real Barack Obama, but maybe the next best thing in comedian/actor Dion Flynn, who has perfected his Obama impersonation with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show.
Indeed, Flynn has Obama as much down in person as Shaffer does on the page. At Books Are Magic, he played--as Obama--an Ed McMahon role to Shaffer’s stand-up routine, guffawing at jokes (“Joe Biden is so old that he helped take back LaGuardia during the Revolutionary War!”) Shaffer offered to improve candidate Biden’s next debate performance.
Flynn also assisted Shaffer in a reading from Hope Rides Again, reciting Obama’s dialog from the scene at the beginning of the book where he first appears: hidden under a cloth-covered hotel room table, searching for his missing Blackberry--and causing the lovably bumbling Biden to fear he might be an intruder bent on doing Obama harm.
Both Hope Rides Again and last year’s initial Obama Biden Mystery Hope Never Dies, acknowledged Shaffer, are political fanfiction novels--though not without “controversies.”
“He’s wearing the tan suit on the cover,” he noted, referring to Obama’s notorious “tan suit scandal”--perhaps the biggest controversy of his administration, being that it was “the color of baby spit-up.”
“[New York Republican congressman] Pete King called it a national security emergency, projecting weakness to our enemies!”
Shaffer related that the most frequently asked question of him is whether Obama and Biden had read Hope Never Dies. He said that while both had been sent the books, Jill Biden, in her memoir, said that neither she nor her husband had done so. Shaffer did, however, get Biden to autograph a copy for him at a personal appearance.
He also met Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail in Iowa, he said, and balked when she wanted to take a picture with him, wondering, What would Joe think? But he eventually caved. And while he expressed annoyance with Marianne Williamson’s campaign (“Nominating an author diminishes the office!”), Flynn, as Obama, interjected, “I’m voting for her!,” then cited her “love is the answer” message in declaring “Trump is the opposite of love.”
Shaffer also revealed that skeptics--presumably not fans of Obama fanfiction--have expressed their belief that Obama himself had funded his books, perhaps paying publisher Penguin/Random House, which theoretically forwarded the money to its Quirk Books imprint, which in turns forked it over to its author Shaffer--a “follow the money” chain that was obviously preposterous.
In fact, Shaffer had hoped to stage book tour events like the one at Books Are Magic all over the country, “beautiful celebrations like Trump’s July 4th!,” he said.
But looking up at the store’s tiny skylight, he observed that it would have been hard to see jet fighter flyovers, and the streets in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood weren’t wide enough to accommodate state-of-the-art tanks.
And making such celebrations virtually impossible, Quirk had only budgeted $3 for each event.
But holding up his cellphone to the microphone and playing a brief snippet of “Ride of the Valkyries” (“It’s all I could afford!”), he launched three Trump Baby balloons into the audience.
“Each one cost a dollar!” said Shaffer, who blew them up in the shop’s “kids’ area.”
“Kids are allies,” he said, noting that one child had understandably started crying at the sight of the Trump balloons.