Hi Amanda and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, No Funny Business!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
No Funny Business is about Olivia and Nick, two stand-up comedians who find love and laughter as they journey on a cross country comedy road tour. But it’s not without some funny bumps along the way.
Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:
Here are a couple to choose from:
“This too,” I say, holding up my garbage bag luggage.
“What are you, waste management?” he asks, letting his Brooklyn(ish)-Jersey accent fly.
“You don’t think this is chic?” I stuff the poufy bag in between the luggage, the sound of the airy plastic making a mockery of me.
“As broke as everyone is these days, I’m sure it will be. What’s in it?”
“What are you? TSA? It’s my pillow,” I say, trying to make it sound necessary.
He closes the back door and leans on the hanging spare tire. “Cute. You pack like a five-year-old going to a sleepover.”
“You got jokes, huh? We’ll see who’s laughing when you’re up all night, fluffing those lumpy hotel pillows.”
“Ha, you’re not gonna get any Marriott rewards on this trip.” Nick swings the keys in his hand and heads for the driver’s side door.
Bernie sets the bagel aside, swipes the cheese off her mouth, and points at me like she means business. “Now listen. This is a legit opportunity. I know Nick’s a handsome, charming, funny guy with dimples you just wanna lick.”
“You said it, not me.”
“I’m serious. You don’t want to go down that road. Keep it professional.”
“Okay,” I relent. She’s right. I don’t want to complicate things too much at the outset of the Olivia Vincent Plan. Even if his smile makes my knees weak.
“I mean it. No funny business.”
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
I’m a HUGE fan of stand-up comedy but I knew little about the world when I started this book. So I read books by some of my favorite comedians, watched at least 10 documentaries on the subject (thank god, for streaming), and interviewed several stand-ups with varying degrees of experience. I even visited one in NYC who has total Olivia Vincent vibes.
- Cross Country Road Trip:
I’m a military brat and my family would often get stationed on the opposite coast. So I’ve road tripped across the US five times in my life! While I hated leaving my friends behind, I now have so much appreciation for those experiences. Our country and culture is so vast and multifaceted. I wanted to highlight a little of that in this book.
- Road Tunes:
My parents were young and huge music fans when I was young, so we listened to a lot of classic rock on the road. At the time of writing this, I was in a major ‘80s metal phase and included some of my favorite classics in the book like “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” and “Kick Start My Heart” along with many others. I have Nick and Olivia’s full road trip playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5vx8Ixb4onpKTLWfYrJhCJ?si=c58a5fe1958f4006
- Fast Food Eats:
Like Olivia, I’m a burger lover so I punctuated the story with fast food stops at some popular chains across the US including Five Guys, In-N-Out, and Whataburger. Warning: this book may induce burger and fries cravings.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Olivia has little time for love with her full-time attorney job and gigging around the city after-hours. Initially, she’s struck by Nick’s Stamos-meets-Springsteen good looks and great hair. He’s just her type—delicious enough to eat. While Nick finds Olivia equally attractive and funny, she really wins him over with her playful charm and their tit for tat banter.
Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?
Yes, so many scenes had me laughing and a couple brought me to tears too. A hilarious one that sticks out is when Nick and Olivia end up having to share a room at a motel in Atlanta. All’s going well when their AC won’t shut off and their room becomes a meat locker. Not even gathering all the fabric in the room (including the curtains) is enough to keep them warm.
This scene was actually inspired by my dad’s travels when his hotel AC wouldn’t shut off and he was forced to pull down the drapes to use as extra blankets. At least, that’s how I remember the story ; )
“Maybe it’s a good idea that we, you know?”
“Ooh, I see. You’re down to snuggle now.” Oh, yeah, he’s screwing with me. Too bad we can’t solve this issue with an old-fashioned screw.
I swallow my desires and say, “No, I’m not down to snuggle. But I’m . . .”
You see, a gentleman wouldn’t make me say it. But Nick’s a comedian. “I’m up for sharing the bed. Just because I can’t feel my face.”
He rises from his mattress, gathering all the miscellaneous linens and shuffling over like a big, dopey blanket monster. Apparently the cuddly type. He freezes over me. Not literally, of course, but I feel it’s necessary to clarify. “Do I have your consent?” he asks.
“Consent for what?” What does he think is happening here?
“Do I have your permission to lie down next to you?”
“No, not obviously. A man in my position should get consent.”
“Oh my god.” I don’t think he’s joking. And while I appreciate that he’s trying to be respectful, I prefer that he shut up, get in this bed, and radiate some damn body heat my way so I can get some shut-eye. “Yes, you have permission to lie next to me.”
“Since you’re an attorney, can you say, ‘I, Olivia Vincent, Esquire, hereby grant—’”
“Nick! Stop screwing around and get in the bed. I’m freezing my ass off!”
“Okay, I’ll allow it.”
Readers should read this book….
Readers will love this book for all the laugh-out-loud moments, witty banter, unexpected shenanigans, and the heartfelt journey of two loveable characters facing their fears, confronting their pasts, and realizing their dreams. No doubt it will leave readers grinning from ear to ear with all the feels <3
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?
I’m currently working on a second chance romance wedding reunion with a revenge-body makeover twist! It’s a book of my heart much like No Funny Business, and I can’t wait to share it with readers. No release dates yet.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: One print copy of NO FUNNY BUSINESS by Amanda Aksel for a U.S. only winner.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Who’s your favorite comedian and how many miles would you drive to see them live?
Which celebrity crush would you find it impossible to be on a road trip with and not get into a little funny business?
Excerpt from No Funny Business:
Isn’t life funny? Both ha-ha and strange. Lately I’ve been wondering exactly how I ended up with my tush glued to an ergonomic chair beneath migraine-instigating fluorescent lights, reviewing commercial real estate contracts and pretending I give a hoot. My glazed-over gaze falls on the tray of business cards behind my keyboard. If only they read my stage name, Olivia Vincent, with the title Stand-Up Comedian replacing my current one-Staff Attorney.
Because the thing is, there’s nothing funny about drafting legally binding contracts. Sometimes I’m tempted to slip a joke in between the lines indebtedness secured hereby and successors thereto just to liven the damn thing up. It’s all so serious. Stuffy. The enemies of humor.
My phone vibrates on my desk against my heavily used coffee mug. It’s Bernie, my booking agent, and at the moment, a very welcome disruption. “Hi, Bernie,” I say, rebalancing my eyeglasses and distancing myself from my dreaded duties.
“Olivia, I got somethin’ for ya,” she spits out in her raspy Queens accent. Just the thing I need to escape my corporate punishment.
“Oh my god, Bernie. Your timing could not be better.”
“How would you like a feature spot at Funnies?” Twenty minutes of stage time at my favorite downtown comedy club? Yes, please!
“That’s a no-brainer. When is it?” I snatch my trusty yellow legal pad and jot down the words Funnies and feature in the margins next to the newly scribbled jokes I’m planning to workshop at an open mic tomorrow.
“In an hour but you’d need to be there at least fifteen minutes early. I know it’s short notice but the guy bailed last minute. Can you make it happen?”
I glance at my watch, remembering that I’m supposed to be at a client dinner in an hour. Hmm, maybe Bernie’s timing could be better. In the business of comedy, timing is truly essential. It’s one of the first things I learned in comedy class. (And in case you’re wondering, there are no squeaky red noses or banana peels involved-just a group of misfit jokesters.) It doesn’t take long to grasp that when the timing is off, the punchline won’t land, and the whole thing’s a disaster. Because no matter what anyone says, there’s only one reason a stand-up takes the stage. It’s the reason we, the misfit jokesters, were put on this earth to begin with.
To make people laugh.
Oh, those glorious ha-ha-has, he-he-hes, and ho-ho-hos. Okay, maybe you only get the ho-ho-hos if Santa’s taking up two chairs in the audience with sugar cookie crumbs scattered over his beard. The point is that no matter the shape, sound, cadence, or volume, we stand-ups love getting the laugh. In fact, I love it so much that I’m going to ditch that client dinner and claim my birthright.
“Of course I can. You know I’ll take any stage time I can get.”
“Thanks, Olivia,” Bernie says. “I’ll email you the details.”
I end the call and silently thank the idiot who backed out at the eleventh hour.
Since I work as a full-time attorney at the law firm of Whitley, Bauer, Carey, and Klein, it hasn’t been easy for a Texas transplant like me to catch my big comedy break. That’s why I’m using the Jim Gaffigan plan. That’s right-America’s favorite pale comedian with the Hot Pockets bit. Don’t we just love a famous funny guy with their wife jokes, sex quips, and wacky impressions? And every now and then, America will love a famous funny gal too. As long as she doesn’t joke about menses. But she should because the word menses is hilarious.
Anyway, legend has it he worked his corporate job to support his family while pursuing stand-up until he hit the showbiz jackpot. I may not have a family to support, but judging by the size of my monthly student loan bill, you’d never know the difference. Funny (not ha-ha), since we all know laughter is in fact the best medicine. But do we, the comedians of the world, get the credit and compensation psychiatrists and physicians do for the endorphin-inducing, cortisol-reducing, calorie-burning service that we provide?
As it stands, if I pursued comedy full-time, I’d be subjected to a steady diet of generic foam-cup ramen until I booked enough gigs to afford the name brand. Though, sometimes it seems like a fair trade-off when I’ve been sitting in a three-hour legal meeting and my ass cheeks are numb.
“Knock, knock,” a friendly voice calls in sync with a couple taps on my doorframe. It’s my best friend and roommate, Imani, dressed in a perfectly pressed ginger-colored jumpsuit complete with a popped collar and gold layered necklace. She tilts her head with a funny expression. “What’s that goofy grin for?”
“I just hung up with Bernie. She snagged me a feature spot tonight.”
“Oh, yeah? Don’t you have a dinner meeting?” Sure, Imani and I work at the same firm but we’re in different departments, so I wouldn’t expect her to know my calendar so well.
“How’d you know that?”
She shrugs with a sweet innocence that rivals mine. “You mentioned it this morning. And since you have other plans, I wanted to come by and see if it’s cool that I borrow your black stilettos. The ones with the gold ankle strap.”
“My horny heels?” I can’t help but smirk at the special shoe request. “Who you doin’ tonight?” She’s been working round the clock, pulling for a promotion at the firm, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for sex and dating. An issue that plagues us both.
“No one. Just meeting a guy for a drink thing.” Her gaze trails off as she swipes her glossed lip with the tip of her ring finger, showing off her new ombre manicure.
“What guy?” I could ask myself the same question but it would mean something completely different.
“Just a guy. I swear I’ll tell you all the dirty details later if I can borrow your shoes.”
“So there will be dirty details?” I press the issue.
“Liv! The shoes?”
“Sheez. Someone needs a little hoo-hoo in her hmm-hmm,” I say under my breath.
“I heard that,” she says. “And you’re one to talk.”
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Two down-on-their-luck comedians embark on a road tour and find more than a few good laughs on the way.
Olivia Vincent dreams of stand-up comedy stardom. Bustling around a busy Manhattan office by day and hustling from club to club by night, she can’t catch a break. Work is falling through the cracks, and after ditching a major client to make a performance, Olivia gets the boot.
Determined to pursue her dreams, she snags an audition in Los Angeles for a coveted spot on late-night TV. But the only way to get there is to join Nick Leto, a seasoned stand-up, on a cross-country road tour. She agrees on one condition—no funny business.
Icky comedy condos, tiny smoking nightclubs, and Nick’s incessant classic rock radio are a far cry from life on the Upper East Side. Reality sets in, and Olivia wonders if she can hack it in showbiz or if she’s just a hack. As Nick helps Olivia improve her act along the way, sparks begin to fly and ignite what they thought was an impossible flame. Maybe being stuck with Nick in a Jeep isn’t so bad. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of Olivia’s actual funny business.
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Meet the Author:
Amanda Aksel is a West Coast transplant whose curiosity about people led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Instead of pursuing a career as a couples counselor, she wrote about one in her first novel.
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