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Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,109 Ratings  ·  363 Reviews
In Ant Farm, former Harvard Lampoon president Simon Rich finds humor in some very surprising places. Armed with a sharp eye for the absurd and an overwhelming sense of doom, Rich explores the ridiculousness of our everyday lives. The world, he concludes, is a hopelessly terrifying place–with endless comic potential.

–If your girlfriend gives you some “love coupons” and then
...more
ebook, 160 pages
Published November 11th 2009 by Random House (first published November 10th 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
Mar 01, 2008 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
Jon stewart may find this book "hilarious", but - with the exception of a couple of inspired pieces - I found these short 'humorous' pieces sophomoric and not very funny. It appears that they were written when the author, son of NY Times critic Frank Rich, was a Harvard senior, so 'sophomoric' may not be far off the mark.
Beth Knight
A thin book filled with short vignettes. Jon Stewart said this book is "hilarious" but I didn't find that to be true. I can't even say this book was amusing, and it's not that I didn't "get" it. Every piece in the book fell short for me.
Nathan
Aug 07, 2008 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is actually a laugh out loud book. Short little stories that will cause you to do a spit-take if you happen to be reading it while you are drinking a glass of milk. I dream of being this funny, and practice at it really hard around my fiance, but she never does a spit take. There's lots of eye-rolling, though.

Here's an excerpt:

Desert Island

I was chatting with a girl at a cocktail party last weekend and she asked me, “If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three pos
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Deb
Oct 08, 2008 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: graham & shane
Shelves: humor, short_stories
I picked up a book called "Ant Farm: and other desperate situations" by Simon Rich. It has Jon Stewart's stamp of approval, and it was pitched as a humor book for the YouTube generation: none of the essays are more than 3 pages long. Most are one and a half. They are hilarious. And dammit, he's only 24.

Excerpts from the book:

I still remember the day I got my first calculator

Teacher: All right, children, welcome to fourth grade math. Everyone take a calculator out of the bin.
Me: What are these?
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Rachel
Mar 29, 2015 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
This was really funny! It was a super quick read, not even 150 pages. Some of them I didn't think we're that funny, but others I really liked. I wasn't blown away by the groundbreaking humor, but I did enjoy reading it, and I cracked a few smiles.
Dana
Jan 26, 2015 Dana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While this was humorous, It was a waste of an hour.
Charles
Jan 16, 2011 Charles rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
On average, a moderately funny series of vignettes and anecdotes.

First, some definitions. At 139 pages, with a heafty font and a LOT of blank space, it is scarcely a book. It is divided into about 50 little tiny amuses-bouches, much smaller than chapters, none longer than 3 pages. These are grouped into five (oops, I mean V -- roman numerals and all that) seemingly random sections, which I speculate were created by the publisher to give the appearance of organization or erudition (neither of whi
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Lauren
Jun 07, 2009 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i walked around reading this book, actually wanting to pull strangers aside and make them read parts, it was that funny. but it is definitely formulaic ("a conversation at the grown-ups' table as imagined at the kids' table", "what goes through my mind when i'm home alone from my mom's perspective") and i think any funny person, who has made funny observations, could write this. technically, the writing is... eh. he definitely has a clean voice, but the format doesn't allow for much fine writing ...more
Nico
1.4 hours casual reading. It's like a bunch of SNL skits on paper. If the SNL guys wrote really short stories...
Yamna
Hilarious at some points, offending at others. Overall, nice. But, yeah, I get why people aren't really happy with this book
Sheree Tampus
I initially found out about Simon Rich on Wordpress. I was browsing through the tag 'books' and found a post on an interview with him. I figured, "well, the guy's from SNL. Let's see if his books are as funny as the skits on the show."
I started with The Last Girlfriend on Earth and enjoyed it immensely. The excitement from reading my first Simon Rich book led to my reading another one of his works.
The Ant Farm is a collection of short humorous stories about "desperate situations" - most which ar
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Sophie
Oct 28, 2014 Sophie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i had so much fun reading this book, it's definitely going to be a collection i'll turn to when i'm feeling sad.
this is, essentially, a collection of short stories, or, should i say, sketches about various subjects. both the dialogue and the purpose of these sketches, not to mention the inspiration behind them blew me away and made me, literally, laugh out loud.
well done mr. rich,
Natalie
Jan 29, 2013 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a super-fast read, but I enjoyed it. It's just little vignettes based on some awkward/fantastical/unusual situations. (For example, what was Abraham and Isaac's ride home to Beersheba like? What is the conversation between two characters inside a video game?). It could honestly be read in a few hours if done in one sitting, but I read it when I was home sick so it was just what my mind needed :)
Jamie Wiggins
Feb 17, 2015 Jamie Wiggins rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If anyone is planning to read this book, they should make sure that they do not read any other comedy books before this one. I sadly read books by amazing comedy writers; Mike Birbiglia, Tina Fey, and B.J. Novaks before I read this substandard comedy-fare. Although there are several points that made me chuckle, I did not enjoy reading this book in the long-run. Simon Rich's brand of comedy is immature and repetitive using simple ideas for some rather harsh jokes. I picked up this book on account ...more
Brian Bakofen
Jun 09, 2015 Brian Bakofen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started this, and kept reading only because I figured there MUST be a punchline to the whole book at the end. Turns out it actually IS a bunch of incoherent blurbs that might have been left on the floor of the writer's room at SNL, by someone who does not write for SNL, and has little idea what funny is. I honestly can't believe a publisher published this.
R.
Jul 19, 2007 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
Read in one sitting, after a pleasant night at work.

Brief comedic vignettes that remind me of some of the weirder riffs, conversations I've had with friends, lovers.

Demonic dogs, graphing calculators--no stone fortress is left unegged in this, the ridiculous minefield we call normal life.
Shannon
Nov 06, 2014 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lulz
Pretty fucking hilarious. Some below reviewers said it wasn't hilarious. Well, that's just like their opinion, man. It was very clever, for what it was. It's like a quick, amusing read. It's not changing the face of fiction/humor/etc.

These aren't short stories, just like short humorous conversations/thoughts/whatever. It has quite a few from-the-perspective-of-a-child pieces, which read as very true to age, in tone. I imagined the author as like a in-his-30's white dude, for some reason, but one
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J. Ostrowski
It was a quick read. Entertaining for the two hours I was sitting at the coffee shop. "Hilarious" is not a word I would use to describe it. I've ready more entertaining emails. But it was adequate for passing the time.
Lorenzo Angeles
Sep 09, 2015 Lorenzo Angeles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations is a series of very short stories written by Simon Rich.
In the short stories Simon Rich talks about serious topics in a clever and humorous manner, such as religion, school and murder. He also talks about his childhood memories.

Each story is one or two pages long and is quick to the point. Some of the stories have great plot, and could probably be much longer, but the format of the book restricts the stories.

I rated the book 4/5 stars because it was hilar
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Stephanie
Nov 24, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short vignettes. Hilarious and absurd. Immensely enjoyable.
Hope N
Mar 15, 2016 Hope N rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, sociology
Simon Rich is the former president of Harvard Lampoon and this is his first series of short funny essays about the absurdity of life. His sense of humor is well-described by the piece the book is named after in which an army of ants dig tunnels with endless optimism in the hope of finding the exit to an ant farm. In other essays, he imagines the awkward conversation between Abraham and Isaac on their way back to Beersheba, what courts of law would look like if they were run like middle schools a ...more
Leftbanker
Jan 14, 2016 Leftbanker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
“I don’t have time to read!” I wish that I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that lame excuse for someone being a stupid lump who never reads. Something like 24% of adult Americans didn’t read a single book last year. Take yourself off that disgraceful list by reading this 120 page book with very few words and quite a lot of great laughs. It’s a totally silly book but at least you won’t have the shame of not reading a single damn book all year. If you are afraid that this is book will be to ...more
Katie
Mar 07, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had seen another one of Mr. Rich's books reviewed in People, maybe, and then heard him speak on Dan Savage's podcast about it and then really wanted to read it. Unfortunately, they didn't have that particular book of his I had heard about, however they did have one of his others, so I got that one instead. I get the idea that all of his books are set up the same way, a good sized collection of short, not even stories so much as, commentaries. So much of comedy is being able to recognize the ob ...more
Dan Myers
Jul 07, 2009 Dan Myers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for Christmas and I thought I'd share it with you. It's written by the former president of the Harvard Lampoon, and I'll agree with the cover blurb for once, it is whole areas.* Each chapter is just a couple of pages long and is a quirky twist on some random musing or event.

The first in the book is an imagined conversation between Abraham and Isaac on the way back from the scene of the aborted sacrifice attempt. Another transcribes a ouija board session involving a murder vi
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Kirsten
Jan 02, 2009 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simon Rich is my new boyfriend. In my head, anyway. In reality, I'm married and he's way too young for me-- 24, but really, really looks like a young 13. Anyway, he wrote Ant Farm and I'm forever grateful. This definitely earns 5 stars based on my made up rating system of humor books-- laughing out loud, reading parts verbatim to one's spouse and still laughing about it when thinking back to various essays. Ant Farm is a collection of pieces primarily from the perspective of children and teenage ...more
Kristen Northrup
I was halfway through the book before I actually laughed out loud, but there were three more instances after that. Still a pretty low percentage, but I don't think it's quite my sense of humor. My boyfriend is more the target demographic and he laughed pretty much at everything. It became much more impressive when I read at the end that he wrote all this during his four years of undergrad (not only as a senior). That explains why almost everything is from a kid's perspective and how the few piec ...more
Phil Huff
Brief, slightly audacious, and very funny short stories are the make up of this book. This is the literary equivalent of an after dinner glass of port. It's sketch comedy in convenient book form. No story is over three pages, which I really appreciate. Mr. Rich has an idea, sets it up, gets to the punchline, and moves on. If only Saturday Night Live had such discipline.
Some of the topics covered:
Issac and Abraham (from Genesis) on the way home after the I-almost-sacrificed-you incident.

If your g
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Amar Pai
May 27, 2007 Amar Pai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who laugh at mcsweeneys lists
This book is pretty funny. The kid who wrote it is the son of New York Times columnist Frank Rich. I don't know why I mentioned that, it's not like I care. Anyway, the kid (Frank Rich Jr.) used to be the editor for the Harvard Lampoon. I wonder if the Harvard Lampoon is funny. Aren't they responsible for those horrible "Vacation" movies starring Chevy Chase? No that's NATIONAL LAMPOON.

You can rest assured that the author of this book has lampooning experience.

The book consists of a series of sup
...more
Allison
Jan 14, 2015 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love Simon Rich's stories in Shouts & Murmurs so I was excited to find a book full of them. Except this is not. It turns out his best work I'd pretty much already read in the New Yorker. There are some good ones in here, my favorite was probably ":(" which is the narrative of a teenage girl with Hep C, told in txt speak, but mostly they were not all that funny. My review: not worth buying; get it from the library.
Noora
Jan 11, 2016 Noora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Comedy is a difficult genre, because so much of the enjoyment depends on whether or not the authors humour is the type that the reader enjoys. I enjoyed Simon Rich's self-deprecating, comedic what-if scenarios of everyday things, and yes, I chuckled and even laughed out loud. The collection definitely delivered the laughs, but I nevertheless was left wanting something a bit longer and more further developed. The longest story of this collection is about four pages of dialogue, which makes for a ...more
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Simon Rich (born 1984) is an American humorist whose first book, Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations, was published by Random House in April 2007.

Rich is an alumnus of The Dalton School and a former president of The Harvard Lampoon, and the son of The New York Times editorialist Frank Rich. He received a two book contract from Random House prior to his graduation from Harvard University in 200
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More about Simon Rich...

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“I still remember the day I got my first calculator

Teacher: All right, children, welcome to fourth grade math. Everyone take a calculator out of the bin.
Me: What are these?
Teacher: From now on we'll be using calculators.
Me: What do these things do?
Teacher: Simple operations, like multiplication and division.
Me: You mean this device just...does them? By itself?
Teacher: Yes. You enter in the problem and press equal.
Me: You...you knew about this machine all along, didn't you? This whole time, while we were going through this...this charade with the pencils and the line paper and the stupid multiplication tables!...I'm sorry for shouting...It's just...I'm a little blown away.
Teacher: Okay, everyone, today we're going to go over some word problems.
Me: What the hell else do you have back there? A magical pen that writes book reports by itself? Some kind of automatic social studies worksheet that...that fills itself out? What the hell is going on?
Teacher: If a farmer farms five acres of land a day--
Me: So that's it, then. The past three years have been a total farce. All this time I've been thinking, "Well, this is pretty hard and frustrating but I guess these are useful skills to have." Meanwhile, there was a whole bin of these things in your desk. We could have jumped straight to graphing. Unless, of course, there's some kind of graphing calculator!
Teacher: There is. You get one in ninth grade.
Me: Is this...Am I on TV? Is this a prank show?
Teacher: No.
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“There are actual monsters in the world, but when my kids ask I pretend like there aren’t.” 10 likes
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