The Problem with Being Perfect
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (06/10)
Wayne Chan has the ability to find the funny in almost any situation, and it’s nice to know he’s kind enough to share that talent with us. Whether it’s describing the marketing genius behind General Tso’s Chicken (turns out the general had nothing to do with it) or explaining the wisdom involved with playing checkers with your 8-year-old (to win or not to win), Wayne is able to pass on his knowledge with a healthy helping of laughter.
While the cover of the book proudly boasts that the United Federation of Asian Perfect-ness approves it, the content is aimed at everyone. Are you an office worker who slaved for hours over a PowerPoint presentation, only to learn a co-worker and the big boss already drew up a contract while playing a few rounds of golf; said contract being scribbled on the back of the score card? The author feels your pain and shares his own adventures with golf/office politics. Tip #1 Don’t talk about the time you fell down a flight of stair and hurt yourself when asked about your handicap. It’s a completely different thing.
I don’t think a book has ever caused me to laugh as much as this one did. With the turn of almost every page, I was treated to a unique insight into how Wayne views various aspects of the world around him and how he manages to survive (barely) the adventure that is life.
The author has an easy way with words and I felt more like I was talking with an old friend, rather than simply reading a book. He draws you in and tickles your funny bone with his views on karaoke and almost every parent will nod their head in agreement when Wayne explains that taking a family picture isn’t about getting everyone with the perfect expression at the same time, but is instead about getting as many pictures as possible so the best expressions can all be Photo-shopped together into one perfect picture.
There are a few departures from the laugh-fest. Wayne takes a few pages to explain the challenges and hopeful dreams associated with raising two children with autism, and a brief look at what he learned from a cousin who recently passed away is also tucked between the covers, but rather than detract from the book, it seems to add a little dimension. Wayne Chan isn’t just a funny man, a comedian who sees the world as a big joke; these more serious passages show us that laughter, life, and knowledge all go hand-in-hand. All it takes to make the ordinary funny is the right perspective.
I’ll be keeping “The Problem with Being Perfect” in an easy-to-reach spot because it’s a great way to remember how to laugh when the day is less than perfect.