"An absolute riot!" --LINCOLN PEIRCE, author of the BIG NATE series
Jake cracks up the crowd as a budding comedian at the Music and Art Academy talent show, but his new ego is no laughing matter. And when he starts blowing off his friends to pursue his "art," Jake's big head becomes a huge bummer.
Plus, being the funny man is way tougher than it looks. Luckily, Jake has his mentor Maury Kovalski, a retired comedy showstopper, to teach him the ropes about humor--and humility--before Jake loses all his biggest fans and best friends!
Featuring more than 200 illustrations, Jake the Fake stuns again with even greater gags and giggles than before!
About the Author
Keith Knight is the recipient of the NAACP History Maker award and the creator of three highly regarded comic strips: The Knight Life, (th)ink, and The K Chronicles. His art has appeared in various publications worldwide, including The Washington Post, Daily KOS, San Francisco Chronicle, Salon.com, Ebony, ESPN the Magazine, L.A. Weekly, MAD Magazine, and The Funny Times.
Read an Excerpt
It’s a good thing that the end-of-semester talent show at Music and Art Academy is followed by the end of the semester. First there was the stress of wondering how I was going to pull off playing the only song I could really play on the piano without being discovered as the fake I was. Then came the excitement of spontaneously figuring out onstage that, while I was a fake as a musician, I was actually a natural at comedy.
I needed a break.
A chance to reevaluate my life, preferably while lying on a beach and drinking something with a miniature umbrella sticking out of it.
I got my wish in the form of a one-week family vacation to the Florida Keys.
Although it wasn’t quite as relaxing as I would have liked because:
a) Florida is one of the weirdest places in the world. It’s basically a swamp, but people decided to live there anyway, even though there are insects the size of Volkswagen Beetles and some of them have been elected to public office.
Also, the hot swampy weather seems to make people go bat-guano insane and do really deranged things. I even found a website devoted to this phenomenon, called Florid"rGermany.com, where they tell you about all these nutty and super-disturbing news items and you have to guess whether they happened in Florida or Germany. Like, “man running across freeway holding bucket of worms attacked by man running across freeway holding bucket of fishing rods” or “city water commissioner found guilty of pooping in reservoir.”
I got pretty good at guessing, actually. As a general rule, the ones that seem like they’re probably caused by extreme sunstroke are Florida, and the ones that are so creepy they’re beyond anything sunstroke could ever make you do are Germany.
b) Reading up on all the Florida weirdness made me jumpy and suspicious, so that even when we were just sitting at a restaurant or lying on the beach, I kept looking at everybody—the waiter, the guys riding on super-loud WaveRunners, the other vacationing families—and expecting them to start acting like lunatics. Which never actually happened.
I did get to swim a lot and eat some excellent seafood, including lots of local dolphin, which is a fish, not a smarter-than-us, able-to-read-at-an-eighth-grade-level mammal, and if you are asking yourself why Floridians have chosen to name their sandwich fish the same name as the most beloved aquatic creature of all time, then you have not been paying attention to what I’ve been saying about Florida.
I’m actually surprised they didn’t also have a dish called human eyeballs that is actually a green salad, or a dish called mountain of puke that is actually french fries.
But the main thing that prevented Florida from being relaxing was:
c) My big sister Lisa’s decision, on the first day of the trip, to tell my parents that her thoughts about college were “evolving.”
Lisa is a senior at Music and Art Academy, but not just a senior. She is more like a magical creature who floats on a cloud of pixie dust and barfs cotton candy and pees sparkling streams of delicious strawberry elixir.
She would be voted Most Likely to Succeed if M&AA did stuff like vote people most likely to succeed. Lisa can sing better than anybody you are likely to hear on the radio, and she is one of those people who, if you saw her wearing a snot-covered raincoat and shoes on her hands, your first thought would be “Oh, I guess snot-covered raincoats and shoes on your hands must be in fashion now.” Plus, she is generally good-natured and never intentionally lords her perfection over anybody, even me. But it is still mega-annoying, since if there is anything I’m not, it’s a perfect unicorn-like being who is good at everything. I’m more like the unicorn’s comic-relief sidekick, Stinky the Pig.
Naturally, Lisa got a full scholarship to the college of her choice. In fact, colleges she hadn’t even applied to sent her admission letters and boxes full of cash and puppies.
Not really. But you get the idea.
So there we were, me and my parents and Lisa, chillaxing on a serene beach and staring out at water so blue it was almost fluorescent, and out of nowhere Lisa opened her mouth and said, “I’ve been thinking. College will always be there. But it just kind of feels like now is the time to really go for it, as far as making the whole band thing work. So I think I’m gonna defer my acceptance for a year.”
I wasn’t even a part of this discussion, and I could feel my throat closing up like I’d been poisoned. There was a pause approximately as long as the Ice Age and twice as cold, and then my dad said, in a very slow and fake-patient voice, “What band, Lisa?”
She took off her sunglasses and scrunched up her eyebrows at him, like she couldn’t believe he’d ask her something so insulting. Which wasn’t really fair, since as far as I knew, the band she was talking about was only a couple of weeks old, and I only knew about it because they practiced in our basement, which meant I couldn’t play video games there.
“My conceptual art band, Daddy,” Lisa said.
“I was not aware that you had a conceptual art band,” my mother said in a voice you could scrape frost off.
Lisa nodded enthusiastically. Either she didn’t notice Mom’s tone or, more likely, she was doing a brilliant pretending-not-to-notice-Mom’s-tone impression.
“Totally,” she said. “It’s called Conceptual Art Band.”
“How conceptual,” my dad said.
“Right?” said Lisa, like she was pumped that he got it. “It’s me and Pierre.”
Pierre is Lisa’s boyfriend of the past two years. He’s also a senior at M&AA, where he mostly paints gigantic mauve canvases that I don’t personally like but other people seem very enthusiastic about.
Before that, he was into ceramics, and before that, beatboxing, tap dancing, miming, tuba, and ceramics again. Lately, he’s been talking about taking up interpretive water ballet. But apparently Conceptual Art Band was the biggest deal of all.
“Pierre and me,” my mother corrected Lisa, which seemed a little beside the point to me, but I busted in with a joke anyway.
“You’re in the band, too, Mom?”
That got me a look of Butt out, Jake. So I did.
“Why can’t you go to college and be in a band?” my dad asked. “I’m pretty sure it’s been done before. Maybe you’ve even heard the expression ‘college band.’” My dad tends to get sarcastic when he’s stressed.
“I know,” said Lisa. “But that’s just it. We’re not a college band. We’re a conceptual art band. And if I’m going to make it work, I need to focus. College would be a distraction.”
That left my parents pretty much speechless.
“Just for a year,” Lisa said in what I guess was supposed to be a reassuring voice. “I’ll still go to college. Unless Conceptual Art Band gets huge.”
“We’ll talk about this later,” my mom said in a voice that sounded like it had been clipped by garden shears. But she and my dad both know that when Lisa sets her mind to something, she’s like a pit bull clamping its jaws around a bone—she doesn’t let go or get distracted, and you can’t convince her to give it up. But those were the exact qualities that had made her so successful and perfect up until now, and I knew my parents weren’t sure what to do, because as much as they wanted their kid to go to college, just like all parents want all kids to go to college, they also knew that letting Lisa do what Lisa was passionate about had pretty much worked out so far. Plus, maybe they weren’t sure they could force her to go to college even if they tried.
The only good thing about Lisa’s announcement was that it took the attention off me and my new thing of doing comedy, which I was getting kind of nervous about. On one hand, it was exciting to have found something I seemed to be good at and maybe even enjoyed. On the other, I didn’t have any idea what to do next. I’d just opened my mouth and jokes had come out, but I couldn’t keep doing that indefinitely.
I had to figure out what comedy really was and stuff, like when Luke Skywalker goes to the remote system of Dagobah to learn the ways of the Force from the ancient Jedi Master Yoda or whatever.
I worried about it for a couple of days, while Mom and Dad and Lisa discussed college and dreams and responsibilities and it became clear that Mom and Dad were not going to win. Then I decided to stop turning a good thing into a bad thing and put it out of my mind until I was back in school. After all, this was vacation. So instead, I worried about whether to go parasailing with Lisa, and specifically whether I might fall out of the harness and break my legs hitting the water and then get ripped apart by sharks. None of which ended up happening. Hooray.