Comedian and BYU grad laughs it up with ‘The Pusher’

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Never mind that he hadn’t played organized basketball since childhood, James Littlejohn still tried out for the NBA Development League’s Utah Flash. Littlejohn sets the bar at sometimes unachievable heights.

No, he never made it in the NBA — but he did just write a book, so that’s got to count for something.

A 26-year-old BYU graduate from Alamo, Calif., Littlejohn recently published a novel directed toward young adults. His book, “The Pusher,” is about the struggle of an arrogant high school tennis player who is forced to look at himself in the mirror and discover his true self.

[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of James Littlejohn” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]

‘The Pusher,’ by James Littlejohn, uses humor to tell the stories of adolescence.

Littlejohn, a stand-up comedian and writer, added humor in his book to make the painfully awkward stages of adolescence less serious, shedding light on the embarrassing stages of self-discovery.

Jefferson Snow, a former advertising student and member of Humor U, has observed Littlejohn’s talents on stage, and praises the man’s comedic intangibles.

“He is the most fundamentally sound comedian I’ve ever met,” Snow said. “He is like the Tim Duncan of comedy.”

Jenna Kim Jones, a stand-up comedian from New York and a script production assistant at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, reviewed “The Pusher.”

“Littlejohn has an excellent, sharp, quick sense of humor,” Jones said in her review. “As a reader, I was never sure what was going to come out of the protagonist’s mouth next. And that’s what made it so much fun to read.”

Littlejohn has bounced around between jobs, in search of his next big idea. He took a job working the graveyard shift at a gas station hoping to gain inspiration from the interesting night-owl crazies that wandered into his store. Unfortunately, Littlejohn said he was forced to give up his job at the service station because he developed insomnia and an addiction to hot chocolate.

“I started writing for fun when I was coming up with stuff for my stand-up act,” Littlejohn said. “And then one time I just decided I would write a book. A lot of people have that idea, writing a book, along with maybe opening a restaurant. I was like, ‘Yeah, I can do that. I can write a book.’ And then I started and was like, ‘I can’t do this. This is hard.’ But luckily I had too much free time so I didn’t stop.”

Littlejohn adds comedic twists to main character Cam Ellis’ life that make his novel clever and entertaining. The character is obsessed with the former tennis star and epitome of style, Bjorn Borg. Ellis models Borg — and all things Swedish — in honor of his idol.

“So then all the Swedish stuff started coming in,” Littlejohn said in a Q-and-A with himself in the back of the book. “The Swedish girls living at his house, his favorite restaurant being IKEA, him studying Swedish in his French class and so on and so on.”

The story of Cam Ellis’ high school hardships is a quick yet amusing read. Littlejohn insists his novel is for all people, with the exclusion of one faction.

“It is for young adults, but more than any group, I try to target my writing at people who can read,” Littlejohn said. “The illiterate are the most challenging demographic to write for and I’d have to say I’ve largely given up on them. Without question, this is the best book I have ever read that I wrote, and I have read every single book I have ever written.”

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