When I was a boy, I was fortunate enough to have parents who thought it was important to develop my sense of humor and introduce me to the concept of parody. By the time I was ten I had been allowed to see Monty Python and The Holy Grail (though my mom did fast forward over the Castle Anthrax scene) and the first time I can recall being grounded was for trying to sneak a second peak at Spaceballs after the rest of the family had gone to sleep. I mention this because having just finished reading Harry Potty And The Deathly Boring, I can’t help but be inspired to feel nostalgic for those days when sneaking a dirty-sounding word into the conversation was the height of sophisticated humor.
If you’ve read the Harry Potter series, you already know the story of this book. If you’ve ever read any parody from the pages of Mad Magazine, you’ll know what to expect in terms of comedy. If, by some chance you haven’t ever read a parody from the pages of Mad Magazine, the title of this book and the cover should give you a hint of what to expect – bad puns, silly names and toilet humor. The Death Eaters are now Odor Eaters (with shoe masks) and Dobby The House Elf is now Robby the Mouse Elf – clad only in his rude smock and a pair of Mickey Mouse ears. There’s also a good deal of random humor, with Elmo from Sesame Street – freshly converted to the forces of evil – fighting Robby The Mouse Elf, as he tries to free Harry Potty and his friends. Why? Because it’s funny to see a shoe-masked Elmo beating up Dobby, of course!
The script by Stefan Petrucha seems confused as to what audience he is trying to reach. There’s scores of bad puns, silly names and gross-out humor that only an elementary school audience would appreciate. Yet at the same time there’s a fair amount of political humor and pop culture references that are sure to sail over the heads of the adolescents this book is reportedly written for. Indeed, the blurb on the back of the book hangs a lampshade on this, making a reference to the TV show Kung-Fu and then describing it as “just a sample of the countless dated references that await you…” There’s also a surprising amount of adult content, with direct reference to cross-dressing being made and indirect jokes being made about masturbation and Dumb-As-A-Dor’s sexual orientation.
However you may feel about the comedy in this book, it cannot be denied that Rick Parker provides the perfect pictures for it. Clearly drawing inspiration from the Mad Magazine parodies of olden days, Parker’s style can be compared favorably to that of the legendary Harvey Kurtzman and underground cartoonists such as Robert Crumb and Peter Bagge. Rather than draw photo-realistic images of the popular characters as seen in the Harry Potter films, Parker caricatures them to good effect, creating a Dumb-As-A-Dor who is more Dr. Demento than Dumbledore. There are also a goodly number of sight-gags hidden in the background, so keep your eyes peeled.
This book is full of adolescent humor. That is not a criticism – merely a statement of fact. I believe that adolescent humor has a place on the library shelf and while I rolled my eyes at much of the content of this book, I suspect that a twelve-year-old me, freshly graduated from the School Of Hard Knock-Knock Jokes, would have enjoyed it thoroughly as would any other class clown that is coming into his own today.