...[a] seriously funny book ... Most of the 35 very short essays in Would Everybody Please Stop? are either hilarious, heartfelt, or both. Many, including 'I'm Awake,' first appeared in The New Yorker. Some are over-the-top silly, others read like material for her performances as a monologist and may be even better live. Yet her wry voice — sometimes confiding, sometimes overbearing — comes through loud and clear in print ... As delightful as her humor is, her serious essays hit deeper — especially reflections on being single and re-entering the social fray alone after a long marriage.
Jenny Allen’s observant, self-deprecating humor pieces make the occasional welcome appearance in the New Yorker, Vogue and other venues. They are light of touch, often reflecting on the absurdities of metropolitan life. But when read together, in her collection Would Everybody Please Stop?, they reveal a somber story beneath the glittering comedy: that of a woman reaching the end of middle age and peering into an uncertain future...And yet her meditations on what her life has become are very funny ... What makes Ms. Allen’s essays charming and companionable is her capacity for taking pleasure in the banal ... Ms. Allen’s sensibility is at odds with the Zeitgeist—enchantingly so. To read the entire collection is to feel that one has gained an eccentric, generous new friend.
Quotidian and clever, they feel like sketches — sketches as in comedy bits but also as in sketchy and not tremendously deep ... Fans of Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck and even the peevish Andy Rooney will find a lot to enjoy in these essays, which are lively and not afraid to be quarrelsome ... Ten of the pieces originally appeared in The New Yorker, so if you like the droll lampoons and opinings of that magazine's Shouts & Murmurs column, then you'll enjoy the raconteur-ish jocularity that Allen displays here. Yet the cumulative effect becomes one of cutesiness. On the whole, Allen's riffs are pleasant enough while you're reading them but likely won't stick in your mind for terribly long after. Unlike the best satire, they don't pick targets in need of deflating. Unlike the best comedy, which is always complex and even surprising, they rarely mix their modest goofiness with more piquant emotions like sadness or outrage, anger or indignation. Middle of the road, they risk offending nobody and perhaps that's what will make them, paradoxically, offensive, for some readers.