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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Trio of Memoirs From Funny People

I do like to read humor books, and there seems to be a spate of memoirs by funny people published recently. I read Bob Saget's Dirty Daddy- The Chronicle of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian, Carol Leifer's How To Succeed In Business Without Really Crying and actress Judy Greer's I Don't Know Where You Know Me From. I'll do a short and sweet review of each here.

Dirty Daddy by Bob Saget 
Published by It! Books ISBN 978-0-06-227478-6
Hardcover, $26.99, 264 pages

Bob Saget is best known for his many years playing neat freak widower and dad Danny Tanner on TV's iconic sitcom Full House. Anyone who has children in the 20s has probably seen that show, but this memoir, Dirty Daddy, shows a much different side to Saget, one that fans of his standup will know better.

Saget likes scatological humor, which can be funny in small doses, but for me a little goes a long way. He got his love of this humor from his father, whom he clearly adores, and that shines through brightly in this book.

Death played a big part in the Saget family, with Bob losing three close uncles and a cousin at a young age. His parents lost twins when they got an infection in the hospital when they were born and died. His two older sisters died at age 34 and 41, respectively. Death followed the Saget family, and that is where their gallows humor came from; it helped them cope.

There are a lot of showbiz stories here, about famous people Saget knows, like Don Rickles, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and some fun stories from his Full House and America's Funniest Home Video days. His story of visiting Larry Fine from the Three Stooges in a nursing home when he was teen was so sweet.

One day he forgot to take his microphone off when going to the restroom during a break of AFHV and he said something rude about the audience that was broadcast to everyone. When he returned, the audience was ice cold to him. Oops.

Saget's stream--of-consciousness writing and scatological (vulgar) language will turn off some, but overall I enjoyed his memoir. Rating 4 of 5

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Crying by Carol Leifer
Published by Quirk Books ISBN 978-1-59474-677-2
Hardcover, $19.95, 240 pages
Carol Leifer's How To Succeed In Business Without Really Crying combines humor, memoir and advice in one volume. Like Saget, her love for her dad is evident, and she also shares lots of fun showbiz stories, mostly from her early days of standup.

Leifer was the inspiration for Elaine on Seinfeld, and as a writer on the show she wrote one of my favorite episodes, "The Understudy" which featured Bette Midler, whom Leifer said "had a lot of heart."

Lost of famous people are in the book, like Jay Leno, whom Leifer says is the nicest person she ever worked with. There's many photos in the book, and the early ones of her, Paul Reiser and Jerry Seinfeld, whom she has known for years, are priceless.

The book is divided into three sections: How to Handle Yourself During the Frenzied Scramble for Gainful Employment, How to Maintain Your Sanity While Stubbornly Advancing an Ever-Arduous Career, and How to Keep Your Footing When You Finally Get a Leg Up To the Top of the Heap.

In these sections, Leifer shares not only funny stories from her difficult climb up the comedy writing heap, but useful advice for anyone looking for a job. (Don't take a soda from the refrigerator at a job interview. It cost her a job with Aaron Spelling when he found out. Like Aaron Spelling can't afford another Diet Coke).

This is a terrific, funny book, and the perfect gift for a college graduate, a woman re-entering the job market or just anyone who likes comedy (especially Seinfeld). Rating 5 of 5

I Don't Know Where You Know Me From by Judy Greer
Published by Doubleday ISBN 978-0-385-53788-9
Hardcover, $25.95, 256 pages

Judy Greer is that actress who has been in everything. The title of her memoir, I Don't Know Where You Know Me From, references the fact that people come up to her, but can't quite remember what they have seen her in.

She's usually the best friend/co-worker (in 27 Dresses and The Wedding Planner) or the nerdy/oversexed TV guest star (Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Arrested Development).  For someone who has worked with so many famous actors, Greer really doesn't dish much. If you are looking for gossip on Katherine Heigl or Jennifer Lopez, you won't find it here.

We do get a nice story about how Ashton Kutcher bought her dad a motorcycle, and the time she was in the restroom with Jennifer Lopez, but mostly it's about her life as a working actor, going from city to city and job to job.

Greer seems like the girl-next-door, and the most interesting chapters include one where she asked her closest friends (who are not in showbiz) to write about what's it's like being her friend, and how she fell in love with a man who has two tween children, and a ex-wife who is a sheriff, and how they shared two homes hours away from each other. (She made it into a sitcom, but alas it didn't last long.)

Reading it, I felt like I was talking to my best friend, and that is the reason to read this book, not for juicy Hollywood gossip. You'll have to watch TMZ for that. Rating 4 of 5

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