Just a Typo

The Cancellation of Celebrity Mo Riverlake

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
270 Pages
Reviewed on 01/29/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Don’t be fooled by the topic of John’s first published novel - $2 dollar bills: America’s Forgotten Currency. Despite writing a book and producing a documentary about the quirky currency, John is first and foremost a humorist.

In his new fiction novel Just A Typo, John examines cancel culture and celebrity and gets back to doing what he loves most - pointing out the absurdities in everyday life.

A writer since his childhood in Yonkers, New York, John now lives in south Florida with his wife and teenage son. He is a cancer survivor, former college professor, and Wheel of Fortune champion, although he admits to still being disappointed he lost the bonus game.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Just a Typo: The Cancellation of Celebrity Mo Riverlake by John Bennardo is a satirical novel that homes in on the effects of cancel culture in real life. The book begins with Mo Riverlake bunkered in his home from the mob that has protested outside his gates since he wrote a thoughtfully formulated but hastily posted tweet about an LGBTQ court loss. Within minutes his world collapsed around him and we meet him right as he's being arrested. During conversations with his attorneys, we are given Riverlake's backstory from the cradle to the clink, with his rise as a game show host coming to an abrupt end as a snowball effect ensues and everything he has ever said or done is spun into a context that further paints him as a racist homophobe. He's reviled by all who loved him before.

John Bennardo does an amazing job in crafting Mo Riverlake as the unassuming victim of cancel culture in Just a Typo. The book is entirely in the first person and offers hilarious oversight from the perspective of a fictional celebrity who was trying to do something good but failed miserably. The prose drips with sarcasm and in my head, I read the entire book in an Aziz Ansari voice—someone nobody remembers anymore either. Satire is a tough nut to crack because the balance between being funny and being obnoxious is very, very hard to maintain throughout a full-length novel. Bennardo masters this beautifully with intelligence and hearty character development that begins from page one. It's hard not to feel bad for Mo Riverlake. Nothing is sacred in Riverlake's world anymore and it's funny but also, it's a little sad. At the heart of this story is a message that the trigger reflex we have now may need to be toned down a bit. Real lives are being destroyed. Free Mo Riverlake.

Jack Magnus

Just a Typo: The Cancellation of Celebrity Mo Riverlake is a contemporary humor book written by John Bennardo. Game Show Host Extraordinaire Mo Riverlake had it made until he committed a fatal unwitting mistake while online at his local Starbucks. It was an innocent slip of the finger that led to such dire consequences as the forty-year-old man found himself pilloried on social media and labeled public enemy number one. Heck, even his Amazon package filled with comfort food failed to make it past the angry mob camped day in and day out outside the gates of his home. Mo was the last person to make vicious slurs about others; sure his jokes and comedy routines skated close to being a bit over-the-top at times, but he had nothing against gays or gay rights. His own brother was gay. One typo was all it took to turn a successful cable TV celebrity into a wanted villain.

John Bennardo’s Just a Typo is a very funny book. Sandwiched within his imperiled present circumstance as persona non grata and under arrest is the life story of a kid who knew all along what his forte, his gift was -- he would be the world’s pre-eminent game show host. His family and friends all knew it; they had been subjected to quizzes and trivia challenges all through his formative years. No one who knew him could have been surprised that he’d make it. The stories, the gags, the narrative of Mauro Besilio, aka Mo Riverlake, whose name alone is ample fodder for the endless jokes and torment kids and adults alike cannot resist are marvelous. I found myself laughing out loud as I read this funny and well-written tale. Getting me to appreciate comedy is no mean feat. I rarely get jokes and have a virtually non-existent sense of humor, so Bennardo’s done something pretty special with this book. And while I’m not fully subscribed to the concept of couching often-merited criticism as being “canceled”, I get the author’s message here. Just a Typo: The Cancellation of Celebrity Mo Riverlake is a funny book; it’s highly recommended.

Lesley Jones

In Just a Typo by John Bennardo, Mauro Besilio, better known as rich and successful Mo Riverlake, the host of the game show Hats Off, has been a prisoner in his home for two weeks. An innocent tweet missing the letter L has accidentally offended every minority. The road to fame has been a long and colorful one and, at the age of forty, Mo had been given an opportunity to fulfill his dream. Now he faces angry crowds outside his home, calling for justice and his brutal punishment. Mo is quickly arrested and incarcerated and wonders when offending people by mistake became a crime. As he awaits trial, his entire past is scrutinized, manipulated, and twisted; even a prank against his brother has surfaced, brandishing him a devil-worshipping psychopath. As the media, television, and people from his past are eager to weigh in with abuse and opinions, Mo's career and life are in tatters. The only person that can clear his name is his co-host and she has disappeared.

I loved Just a Typo by John Bennardo and the sharp witty humor grabbed my interest and attention immediately. The dialogue between the characters is really funny and highlights their personalities perfectly. I especially loved the interaction between Mo and his lawyer when he is first arrested. I thought every character had been well thought out and were all equally colorful and realistic. The analogies were some of the funniest I have ever come across. Some of the situations Mo found himself in made me wince because I could foresee something embarrassing was going to happen, and it usually did. I found Mo such a wonderfully larger than life character. He was basically a good person with good intentions and a caring heart, he just wanted to make people happy. Mo touched many lives for the better and the plot highlighted that we live in a society where only our mistakes are highlighted not our achievements. I loved the chapters on Mo's childhood and rise to stardom, there were some hysterical moments especially between Mo and his siblings. I enjoyed Mo's song parodies too, they were ingenious, especially the unique take on Billy Joel's song. This is an exceptionally well-written laugh out loud novel that examines human behavior and the heightened sensitivities of a dystopian society.