West alum’s book explores the absurd side of quarantine life

Honey Parker’s first novel is a satirical look at lockdown.

When times get tough, Honey Parker finds it helps to look at the humorous side of things. Even in the darkest of times, like an ongoing pandemic, she’s found catharsis in laughing at the absurd side of life. 

“I was raised to look at the funny side of things,” Parker said. “Comedy was in the language of my family. That’s always where I’m going to go first.”

So, when COVID-19 struck, Parker turned to humor as an outlet once again and penned her recently published novel, “Careful-ish – A Ridiculous Romp Through COVID Living as Seen Through the Eyes of Ridiculous People.” The former Cherry Hill resident’s debut novel follows the lives of six friends quarantining in New York City and takes a satirical look at life in lockdown.

Born in Philadelphia, Parker moved to Cherry Hill with her family when she was a freshman in high school. She attended Cherry Hill High School West,  where she “played every sport and stunk at them all.” 

After graduating in 1981, she attended the University of Delaware to  study visual communications. At the time, she recalled, the program was small and concentrated on sending people to New York, so after she graduated college, she found herself in the city working in advertising as an art director.

One day, the company hosted a competition called funniest person in advertising, and a co-worker encouraged Parker to enter. She was the only art director to do so, and despite competing against the company’s writers, Parker won. 

A feature in Adweek magazine followed, and soon, Parker was getting calls to perform at private parties. She decided to leave the agency and began working as a standup comic. She’d later reenter the advertising world, but this time as a writer. Parker worked her way up the ladder at another New York firm before deciding to move to Los Angeles as a freelance writer.

After a stint in Los Angeles, she returned to the East Coast. She was unemployed at the time, and she reached out to a friend looking for leads. While the friend didn’t have a job to offer, he did have an opening with his improv group and invited Parker to join. At the time, she had no familiarity with improv and wasn’t certain what it entailed. But Parker didn’t have anything else going on at the time, so she was suddenly part of a weekly improv show at the Comedy Cellar. 

She moved back to Los Angeles once more and began taking classes at The Groundlings Theatre & School, where she had “a hell of a class.” Her fellow students included the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard and Melissa McCarthy.  But the most important person she met while studying at Groundlings and working the standup comedy circuit was her husband, Blaine Parker. The pair began writing screenplays together, and while none of their ideas got made, they still made a living from their writing.

At a certain point, the Parkers decided they’d had enough of Los Angeles and on a whim, moved to Park City in Utah. A friend had invited them to visit, and they fell in love with the city. So, they moved a bit east and opened their own advertising agency, called Slow Burn Marketing. 

The husband-and-wife team speak with small-business owners around the globe about profitable branding. About two-and-a-half years ago, the pair decided to create a weekly podcast called, “CoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun & Profit,” which had them driving around the country in an RV interviewing couples in business. 

Then COVID hit and traveling was no longer in the cards. Parker said at the start of the pandemic, she’d chat with her friends about the ridiculous things they were all up to, and she thought the absurdity of it all would make great fodder for a sitcom. She wrote the pilot in a day.

But when Parker discussed the idea with her husband, he encouraged her to take a different route. The pair didn’t have many Hollywood connections anymore, and he worried that studio executives might not want to poke fun at life amid COVID. He suggested she write a novel instead. 

While she was initially intimidated by the idea, Parker decided to give it a shot, and soon, the work just flowed out of her. She finished the first draft in around six weeks. 

Set in New York City, the story follows the friends who remained close after graduating from Cherry Hill High School West. The group has a standing weekly beer date, and the novel opens with the characters at a bar when they learn the news that New York City is shutting down. 

They go their separate ways, but they keep their standing beer date (virtually, of course). The book follows the friends as they navigate bills, business and relationships in quarantine, and while they may seem a bit frivolous at first, as the story unfolds, Parker reveals that each character has a bit more going on beneath the surface.

She titled the book “Careful-ish” because, as she puts, it, “We can only ever be so careful.” She said the plot follows characters and the degrees to which they’re careful in lockdown. She has plans to turn the book into a series and is currently working on the follow-up novel. 

Parker said the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, and the book is not meant to make light of the virus. But when her mother passed away in April, writing the book helped her look at the more humorous side of the current situation. Parker’s hope is that the book helps others do the same.

“To me, if you can laugh, it means that you’re hopeful and positive,” she  said.

“Careful-ish – A Ridiculous Romp Through COVID Living as Seen Through the Eyes of Ridiculous People” is currently available on Amazon. To learn more, visit  www.Carefulish.com