Since he was seven, sixth grader Max Carmody dreamed of becoming a stand-up comedian. “‘What’s the deal with Barney?’” Max says in an effort to get a laugh out of his four year old sister. “‘Are you telling me that, with all the crushing jaws and killer claws in the dinosaur kingdom, the only species that didn’t become extinct is purple, has no teeth, and a rear end the size of a king-sized water bed?’” Unfortunately, there are few places in the small town of Bartonville, Ohio where he can perform his act. This doesn’t make much of a difference because there are few people who even appreciate Max’s humor. Even his friends are too preoccupied with their own lives. His best friend Maude Dolinka constantly obsesses about all the bad things that happen to her. Andrew “Big” Byrd seeks to become a famous filmmaker by videotaping wind and apples falling from a tree, and Sydni Cox single-mindedly strives to climb the social ladder via the student council.
Max’s big break comes when he finds out about a nation-wide stand-up comedy contest being held in Chicago. Through a series of half-baked schemes, Max (who comes up with the stage name Maxx Comedy) manages to put together an audition tape and convince his parents to let him go to Chicago. As he waits for the results of the audition, Max experiences typical sixth grade life, such as watching a cow give birth, letting a baby panther loose in the school library, and riding in the back of an eighteen-wheeler that is full of cherries with Maude who happens to be allergic.
It’s plain to see that Maxx Comedy has plenty of material for a great stand-up routine, but will he ever get his chance to prove that he is “the funniest kid in America?” In Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America by Gordon Korman, one boy seeks to overcome naysayers and bad luck to achieve a life-long dream.