Norm MacDonald: Based on a True Story

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be looking at a truly unique read, an autobiography that contains almost no factual information about the author itself, but instead takes you on a bizarre journey of degradation and humour. I am talking about Norm MacDonald: Based on a True Story.

There are a couple of hurdles you will need to jump through before tackling this book. First of all, do you know who Canadian comedian Norm MacDonald is?

Norm MacDonald is known as a Comedian’s comedian. He is beloved by Louis C.K, who has written the introduction to the book, as well as by Jerry Seinfeld, Conan O’Brien and David Letterman. His humour is dry and drawling. He’s as laid back as you can get. He is not for everyone, and some don’t find him funny at all, but for me, the more you watch him, the funnier he gets. He has developed a very strong, somewhat cult following, as fans don’t just like him, they love him!

You may know him as one of the previous newsreaders for Saturday Night Live or for his movie Dirty Work. You may be vaguely aware of him from his cameos in various Adam Sandler or Rob Schneider movies. He also has his own podcast called Norm Macdonald Live. If it’s still not ringing any bells then I suggest hitting up good old Youtube and checking out his stand up, then watch the podcast, where he interviews famous comedians. The podcast, I should point out, contains some filthy, filthy language and good grief, if you watch the one with Gilbert Godfried…..

If you already are a big fan, or you become one after checking out his stuff, then this book is 100% a must read. Don’t read anymore of this review, just go and buy it right now. If you haven’t watched the podcast yet, then you should do that first to get the most out of it. If you’re not a fan, or are not converted, then don’t bother getting the book. It’s that simple- this book is for fans of Norm’s work, and they will love every page.

If you have watched the podcast, you will be familiar with his sidekick Adam Eget. He is a lowly servant, a holocaust denier, and a degenerate sex worker. He features heavily in the book, and if your opinion of him wasn’t already low enough, this tale serves nothing to improve his image. This “autobiography” discusses Norm’s early years, then takes you on a journey as Norm and Adam Eget travel to Vegas to play a high stakes game to resolve some serious gambling debts. It also chronicles Norm’s disputes with his downtrodden ghost writer.

It is a very, very funny book. It is an easy read, which I finished over two nights, in three hour sessions. There is almost no truth whatsoever in it from Norm’s life, and Norm has admitted in interviews that he “tricked” publishers into letting him write a story by pretending it would be an autobiography. It does however feature Canada, where he is from, discusses gambling, which he has a real life problem with, and talks a little about his work on Saturday Night Live, which he did do. Other than that, well just don’t trust anything…

The good news, for the Norm fans that will inevitably love this book, is that Norm has said he’s going to write a few more.

This is just the beginning…

Happy Reading from The Boss Book Club!

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Over the Top and Back: The Tom Jones Autobiography

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

I trust you have been enjoying your own reading adventures. This week I will be reviewing the one and only autobiography of the one and only Tom Jones. I received this book as a gift from my husband- we’re both big Tom Jones fans. We saw him perform live and he was fantastic, an incredible voice, and a warm and energetic entertainer that obviously loves what he does…

But what’s his book like?

This book ticks all the essential boxes for an autobiography- it gives a detailed account of his family and childhood life, and all the steps that lead to his successful career. It details the places he played, how he signed his first record deal, and the television and recording opportunities that put him at the top. The book goes into detail about his love of different music styles and the musicians that inspired him, as well as the diverse array of famous faces he’s rubbed shoulders with- including some special stories about his interactions with such people as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and even the Queen. These stories are great and make you appreciate the hard work and determination that goes into building a career with no guarantees, and give you an insight into the glitz and glamour of being top of the charts.

Where this book differs is that Tom Jones also goes into a lot of detail about the downsides of his career. He talks a lot about some of the bad decisions he’s made, the regrets that he has about who he’s worked with, the places he stayed at too long, and the songs or performances he didn’t like. It’s hard to read these parts sometimes- he seems a bit too hard on himself. It reads  like he’s being defensive- particularly when he’s justifying to the reader why he chose to play Vegas for so many years rather than work hard on his recordings. He contradicts himself sometimes- on the one hand saying that Vegas was a great time and a steady paycheck, but at the same time lamenting that it gave him the label of a “Vegas Performer”, which he states he never thought fit what he did. It seems a bit condescending to try and distance yourself from a venue that has given you so much success, money and, well, employment, but then resent it and try and distance yourself from it at the same time. Tom spends a fair bit of time in this book trying to convince the reader he is a legitimate musician.

Tom, you don’t need to do that!

You don’t have a succesful career that spans sixty years without being a legitimate, dedicated, talented musician. And that’s the most frustrating bit in reading this book- he justifies where there is no need. You wouldn’t be reading this book unless you already know that Tom Jones is awesome!

 

All in all, this book is great for any Tom Jones (of course) or music fan. It will add value to your collection.

 

Thank you for joining us this week- please let us know if you’ve read any great autobiographies lately in the comments section.

 

Happy Reading Bosses!

 

Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve been, Where I’m going, and Where the hell are my keys?

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be looking at Billy Crystal’s autobiography called Still Foolin’ ‘Em.  It is a look at the life and career of one of American’s greatest comedians.

This book has a focus on ageing and growing old. Billy was 65 years old when he wrote this in 2013, and the book opens with a hilarious chapter that had me laughing out loud as he reflects on what being 65 looks like- and how terrifying that is!

The book follows a standard autobiography format- the chapters are separated by decade so Billy talks us through his 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. These chapters are interspersed with small, funny chapters that work off the ‘growing old’ theme. These are comedic chapters that serve to provide some laughs in between the more ‘serious’ chapters where he talks about growing up, and his life in show business; they include such topics as: the five stages of forgetting things, sex when you’re old, and why you should take care of your teeth. These funny interludes were a delight to read every time.

The book has strong points and weak points. Firstly, the not so good. If you’re not a baseball fan, or don’t know much about the sport, then this book will have large, large sections that won’t appeal to you. Billy, as it turns out, is a big baseball fan, and he talks about his experiences with Mickey Mantle and his time spent with the Yankees a lot. And I mean that, it’s not just one chapter you can skim over, it’s interspersed throughout the entire thing. This may be a really strong point if you are a baseball fan- if you love Billy and Baseball- then definitely get this book, you will love it!

Secondly, this book is edited a little oddly at times. There are sections where he talks about his first daughter a lot, and you can tell he’s a very proud father to both of them, but his second daughter gets only briefly mentioned, and often in the context of other projects or stories. It reads a little bit strangely.

Lastly, and this isn’t necessarily a negative point but is something you should be aware of, the book is quite factual and detailed throughout- a serious account of his life, with funny chapters about ageing placed in between. Some people might expect a comedian’s autobiography to be funny throughout, but that ‘s not what Billy aims to do here. This book is better suited to big fans of his work; it doesn’t suit the casual reader. Some of the chapters about his growing up years read a little dry after the initial funny chapter.

Now, the good points, and there are plenty! Billy has many interesting stories that give people background info into the making of City Slickers, 61, Analyze This and When Harry Met Sally. He tells great stories about the Oscars, and living in New York. One of the most wonderful parts of this book is when Billy talks about his family. He grew up in a big showbiz family, with many musicians and talented artists. He really paints a picture of an amazing upbringing, full of music and laughter, which will make you smile by proxy. However…

I was very surprised to find myself in tears at the end of his book. A book about ageing has to mention death and dying in there somewhere, and whilst he discusses it throughout the book with laughter and jokes, the final chapters of the book talk about the losses of his loved ones, and the difficulty of having to say goodbye to all the wonderful people he introduced us to in the opening chapters. It makes for heartfelt reading which has a real emotional impact.

I would recommend this book for big Billy Crystal fans, fans of baseball, and it would make a great gift for anyone that’s hit the grand mark of 65 years of age or older, there’s a laugh or two to be had here.

 

Happy Reading and thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!

It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me

Hi Everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book club!

Today I’m going to talk about a thoroughly funny and enjoyable autobiography from one of the world’s late, great comedians, Rodney Dangerfield.

If you don’t know who Rodney Dangerfield is by name, chances are you will know his voice, or recognize him as that poor schmuck who gets “no respect, no respect at all!” A quick Youtube search may make you an instant fan!

If you already know Rodney and enjoyed his comedy, or his appearances in movies such as Caddyshack or Back to School then you will find this autobiography a fascinating and of course, very funny read. On every single page of this relatively short autobiography, Rodney has included one of his famous quips, so you’re guaranteed at least a smile, if not a giggle every page. Some classics include:

“l tell ya, my wife was never nice to me. On our first date, I asked her if I could give her a good-night kiss on the cheek. She bent over.”

And….

“I tell ya, my family were always big drinkers. When I was a kid, I was missing. They put my picture on a bottle of Scotch.”

Ah, one more won’t hurt…

“I asked my wife, “Last night, were you faking it?” She said, “No, I was really sleeping.”

One of those little gems on every single page! Your ongoing entertainment is virtually guaranteed. Rodney of course discusses his whole life in this book, from his childhood, to the running of his nightclub and all the celebrities he’s met in between. If you’re a fan of comedy, show business, and the Las Vegas scene then let Rodney tell you all about it. The book does have a serious side though, and Rodney doesn’t flinch away from talking about the difficult points of his life, including his troubled relationship with his mother, his health problems and his lifelong battle with depression. One of the most impactful moments of the book for me was discovering that Rodney gave up comedy when he was 28 years old, and for 12 years worked as a labourer. It was only when he turned 40 that he decided to give comedy another crack and ended up becoming a comedy superstar. I found this fact to be inspiring as I think today there’s a certain pressure to have your entire life sorted out before you turn 30 years old! He showed that you can follow your dreams and passions at any age and be successful.

A nice addition to this book is a foreword by Jim Carrey and afterword by Roseanne Barr. These little segments nicely bookend Rodney’s story and highlight how much Rodney did to support other comedians and their acts. After this book you will experience a greater appreciation for Rodney Dangerfield, relive some of his best jokes, and realize the hard work that goes behind the scenes to what looks like effortless comedy.

And who knows, you might even respect him a little.

 

 

Thank you for joining the Boss Book Club, feel free to tell me your favourite Dangerfield joke in the comments below! Happy Reading.