Archive for the ‘Autobiography’ Category

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Tim and Tom: An American Comedy In Black and White

February 18, 2009

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Tim and Tom: An American Comedy In Black and White

Greetings all.

I have returned once again, far too long between posts. However, this time it’s not because I haven’t been reading. I relocated my biblio-groove about six weeks ago and have been reading at a fairly steady pace ever since. Now I have to catch up on the blog(ging)…
This is partly due to the annual Christmas flood of prime reading material, and partly due to the conspiracy of the fates in which my brain and my outer time clock fall into synch. There’s not telling how long this bit of temporal synchronicity will last, so to borrow yet another cliché, one must strike while the iron is hot.
The book I’m reviewing today was in fact a Christmas gift (from my wonderful sister) who managed to grab me something off of my Amazon wish list before I grabbed it myself (you usually have to move pretty quickly to pull that one off, but these days my spending has dwindled to almost nil).
I don’t remember exactly when I first heard that Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen had once been a comedy team, but I do recall that it came as something of a shock. I (like most everyone else my age) knew Reid as Venus Flytrap on the TV series ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’. I had no idea that he was anything more than an accomplished character actor.
Tom Dreesen was familiar to me from countless Tonight Show appearances, as well as the fact that he was Frank Sinatra’s regular opening act during the last part of the Chairman’s career.
Sometime toward the end of last year I happened upon Reid, who was appearing on DL Hughley’s show to promote this very book. I added it to my wishlist immediately, and because Santa Claus (and my sister) was watching, it dropped into my stocking shortly afterward.
‘Tim and Tom’ is a well written, and surprisingly bittersweet memoir of the comedy team of the same name. It describes the austere upbringings of both men, their meeting in the suburbs of Chicago, and their years of struggle as perhaps the only integrated comedy team in the country. While there are lots of familiar sounding anecdotes about showbiz struggles, they are all viewed through the lens of late 1960s race relations, and both men are painstakingly honest about their feelings about the partnership and each other.
I won’t be giving away any spoilers when I mention that ultimately they met only with limited success (as a pair).
It’s a great read as a unique story, but also for anyone interested in stand up comedy.

Next up – In Search of Captain Zero

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My Booky Wook

September 13, 2008

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My Booky Wook by Russell Brand

Greetings all.

I know the last time I posted I said I was reading the ‘Fables’ graphic novel series, but volume 1 turned out to be one of those half-an-hour specials, and though interesting, not terribly captivating, so I put volume two on hold and fell right into another book.
Those of you stateside who know the name Russell Brand have either seen ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ – in which he played the rock star Aldous Snow – or saw him tear it up on the otherwise stultifying MTV Video Awards (in which he rightly made light of one of the more plastic, idiotic and ultimately forgettable corners of our current pop culture).
Brand’s a funny guy.
I can’t remember where I read about ‘My Booky Wook’, but I do recall that I was intrigued enough to order a copy from the UK (it has yet to be published stateside). While I can’t explain the hoodoo that got the book here from England in less than a week for under $5 postage (I’m not sure I could reproduce that kind of speed for the same price from one destination to another domestically), I applaud the Royal Postal Service for their efficiency.
‘My Booky Wook’ is an autobiographical volume, which may seem odd for someone who is barely known over here, but we’ll overlook your assumption that if someone is not famous here in the US that they simply cannot be famous anywhere else – and continue with the review.
Brand is actually quite well know (maybe notorious) in the UK where he’s worked for the last several years as a stand up comedian, actor, TV host and renowned libertine. The book is a well written, humorous and – believe it or not – poignant look at Brand’s life, from his childhood, through his first recognition as an actor/comedian, right on through a long period of self destructive debauchery and on to a conclusion that is every bit as satisfying as it is expected.
I found Brand to be the best thing about ‘…Sarah Marshall’, loved his utterly disrespectful approach to the MTV thing (take that you pompous little Republicans. How about a promise ring that symbolizes a pledge to mind your own fucking business???), and the tales of his TV work in the UK made me eager for a time when his star rises enough over here that some of it gets released on DVD (or at least shown on BBC America, where I first encountered the brilliant ‘Little Britain’).
I’ll certainly read anything else he choose to write in the future.
Currently reading: Not sure, really. I have yet to make up my mind between a graphic novel, a sci-fi horror thing or a huge hardcover book on avant garde jazz that I got for my birthday…