Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “snl”

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #30 God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked by Darrell Hammond

*Book 2 in my personal summer comedy tour*

Darrell Hammond is best known as the SNL cast member with the longest run (14 seasons). What is less known is that for decades he has battled mental illness as well as alcohol and drug addictions. In his memoir, God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked, Mr. Hammond takes us through the parallel histories of his demons and his career in comedy.

I finished this book this morning and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m not sure that I’m going to have a firm decision about this book so I’m forging ahead.  I know that I don’t feel it was as successful as American On Purpose by Craig Ferguson. The lows were by far lower and told with just as much honesty. But… there’s a but. The non-linear storytelling which I was happy to praise in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, in this case it just doesn’t accomplish the same goals.

Hammond attempts to tell us the story of his abuse at the hands of his mother and a former soldier father who was more often than not checked-out and how that affected his adulthood in Florida and later in New York as he remembered it while going through therapy and several rehabs. The problem with telling us the story of his flashbacks as he experienced them while also stepping away from it in other chapters to basically do a laundry list of the celebrities, sport starts, and politicians he encountered while being a working comic both pre and post SNL is that there lacks an overarching structure to this work.

What Hammond does right in this work is lay it all out, with nothing left in the shadows any longer. Jail, rehab, and alcoholism, run-ins with the mob, trauma, and a night in a crack house – it’s all there and honestly told. This is a man still in the fight for his life and the ability to be the type of father he wants to be for his daughter which his own parents were not for him. I wish his luck.

TylerDFC #CBR4 Review#10 Bossypants by Tina Fey

Not that I liked him all that much to begin with, but Jerry Lewis’ famous comment (paraphrased), “Women aren’t funny.”, has forever linked him in my mind with the word, “fuckwit”.  Not only CAN women be funny, in my mind they are usually funnier than men. I can name a dozen hilarious women off the top of my head, I’m having a hard time getting above 6 right now of funny men and all of those men are on NBC sitcoms. My number one criteria for dating has always been personality and with personality I mean sense of humor. This is a round about way of saying that I found Tina Fey’s Bossypants to be very, very funny and well worth taking the 3 hours it requires to read it.

Starting with her childhood and moving all the way up to 30 Rock, Fey writes about her life to this point by focusing on the high points and formative events. Her days spent in a summer theater group, her tenure at Second City and, of course, her experiences writing for Saturday Night Live and creating 30 Rock. Interspersed throughout the book are managerial lessons she has learned that are pretty good. I was surprised, not that she had advice, but that at times the book was more than funny and actually not a bad “how to succeed in business” book.

Saturday Night Live is one of my obsessions. I have read numerous books on the subject, including the amazing Live from New York by Tom Shales and Andrew Miller (seriously, it is fantastic) so it should be no surprise that the section Fey devotes to SNL, and especially the insanity of the Palin days, was my favorite. Many people in my family are Republican and I have had more than one occasion where I brought up 30 Rock only to be told “We don’t watch Tina Fey.” This anti-Fey attitude is solely because of her impression of Sarah Palin on numerous SNL skits. Then my family members would talk about how much their love Two and A Half Men (no joke) which filled me with GLEE (not the show) when Sheen had his drug fueled melt down. Where’s your wholesome Republican entertainer now, huh?! But I digress.

I bring that up because as Fey goes in to detail of the Palin hysteria and the fever pitch it reached culminating in an appearance of Palin on SNL. How that appearance came about, and the consternation that Fey and SNL producer Lorne Michaels felt trying to figure out how to make it work, is a great bit of “inside baseball” that really shines a light on that watershed moment in pop culture.

Many people have reviewed this book so I’m going to keep this short. I read the book because I like Fey anyway. The book is very funny, and the writing sounds exactly like Liz Lemon is telling the story. In essence, it is exactly what you think a funny memoir by Tina Fey would read like. Funny, self deprecating, honest, and open.

Take that, Jerry.

Post Navigation