Ellis Weiner began…well, never mind. Later, he became an editor (one of many) of National Lampoon, where he met the legendary Doug Kenney, who said once of something Ellis had written, “Well, it doesn’t make me go ‘ha ha…’”
After leaving the Lampoon he freelanced for it and for literally every other magazine that ever existed. He also contributed important, or at least relevant, pieces to all the group parody projects of that time, including Not the New York Times, Off the Wall Street Journal I and II, Playbore, The Post-New York Post, and The Eighties: A Look Back.
It was around that time that he began a lifelong love affair with…well, never mind. He started contributing to The New Yorker, commencing a relationship that persists to this very day. The book of his collected humor pieces, Decade of the Year, was published in 1987 and immediately became the subject of almost universal indifference.
From the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties he had a pretty decent career as a writer of scripts for children’s television—primarily for puppets, although he was story editor of Ramona, starring the then-younger (as we all were, at the time) Sarah Polley. And now look at her.
He also spent those years writing a column for Spy, the magazine that everyone except advertisers wishes were still around. It was to prove to be the last period during which he, and indeed all of humanity, felt cool.
In 2004 he published no fewer than three books: The Joy of Worry and Drop Dead, My Lovely (both written by himself alone), and the soon-to-be-best-selling Yiddish With Dick and Jane, with Barbara Davilman.
It was about Drop Dead, My Lovely that T.S. Eliot wrote, “When is somebody going to have the good sense to turn this into a television series?” Although wait, T.S. Eliot didn’t write that. He said something else.
Subsequent books have included Yiddish With George and Laura (out of print and out of mind), and Santa Lives! Five Conclusive Arguments for the Existence of Santa Claus (hilarious, beautifully published, out of print). The others are featured on this site, complete with vivid descriptions and Amazon links.
His middle-grade novel, The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, will be published in Spring of 2012 by Chronicle Books.
He lives in L.A. with Barbara Davilman, his wife, and three (at present) Rhodesian Ridgebacks. He has been playing the same set of Rogers drums since 1968. What else do you need to know?