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Friday, February 24, 2017

5 Books I Want to Read...Comedy

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2745. Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

There are a lot of funny people in Hollywood these days. But, few comedians will become classic or timeless comedians. And for the record? Profane humor isn't funny. Especially if that's all a comic does. A well placed expletive has its place, but being profane, just to be profane isn't enjoyable comedy to me.

Humor comes in many forms and these 5 comedians are amazing. Each has a body of work that speaks for itself and each is enjoyable to watch, whether it's on screen or on stage.

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Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys by Billy Crystal

Hilarious and heartfelt observations on aging from one of America’s favorite comedians as he turns 65, and a look back at a remarkable career.

Billy Crystal is turning 65, and he’s not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like “Buying the Plot” and “Nodding Off,” Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him.

He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live, When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. Readers get a front-row seat to his one-day career with the New York Yankees (he was the first player to ever “test positive for Maalox”), his love affair with Sophia Loren, and his enduring friendships with several of his idols, including Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. He lends a light touch to more serious topics like religion (“the aging friends I know have turned to the Holy Trinity: Advil, bourbon, and Prozac”), grandparenting, and, of course, dentistry. As wise and poignant as they are funny, Crystal’s reflections are an unforgettable look at an extraordinary life well lived.

This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett

A touching and hilarious memoir by the author of Carrie and Me: A Mother Daughter Love Story, This Time Together is 100 percent Carol Burnett – funny, irreverent, and irresistible.

Carol Burnett is one of the most beloved and revered actresses and performers in America. The Carol Burnett Show was seen each week by millions of adoring fans and won twenty-five Emmys in its remarkable eleven-year run. Now, in This Time Together, Carol really lets her hair down and tells one funny or touching or memorable story after another – reading it feels like sitting down with an old friend who has wonderful tales to tell.

In engaging anecdotes, Carol discusses her remarkable friendships with stars such at Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, and Julie Andrews; the background behind famous scenes, like the moment she swept down the stairs in her curtain-rod dress in the legendary “Went With the Wind” skit; and things that would happen only to Carol – the prank with Julie Andrews that went wrong in front of the First Lady; the famous Tarzan Yell that saved her during a mugging; and the time she faked a wooden leg to get served in a famous ice cream emporium. This poignant look back allows us to cry with the actress during her sorrows, rejoice in her successes, and finally, always, to laugh.

What's So Funny? My Hilarious Life by Tim Conway

Six-time Emmy Award–winning funnyman Tim Conway, best known for his characters on The Carol Burnett Show, offers a straight-shooting and hilarious memoir about his life on stage and off as an actor and comedian.

In television history, few entertainers have captured as many hearts and made as many people laugh as Tim Conway. There’s nothing in the world that Tim Conway would rather do than entertain—and in his first-ever memoir, What’s So Funny?, that’s exactly what he does. From his pranks in small Ohio classrooms to his perfor­mances on national television and movies, Tim has been cracking people up for more than seventy years. Long regarded as one of the funniest come­dians around, Tim also boasts an inspiring rags-to-riches story.

What’s So Funny? captures Tim’s journey from life as an only child raised by loving but outra­geous parents in small-town Ohio during the Great Depression, to his tour of duty in the Army—which would become training for his later role in McHale’s Navy—to his ascent as a national star and household name. By tracing his early path, this book reveals the origins of many of Tim’s unforgettable characters—from Mr. Tudball and the Oldest Man to Mickey Hart to everyone’s favorite, Dorf.

What’s So Funny? shares the hilarious accounts of the glory days of The Carol Burnett Show and his famous partnerships with entertainment greats like Harvey Korman, Don Knotts, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Vicki Lawrence, Bob Newhart, and of course, Carol Burnett. As a bonus, readers will enjoy never-before-shared stories of hilarious behind-the-scenes antics on McHale’s Navy and The Carol Burnett Show.

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

"Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing." Ellen Degeneres' winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously...I'm Kidding, Degeneres' first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn't want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant.

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin

In the mid-seventies, Steve Martin exploded onto the comedy scene. By 1978 he was the biggest concert draw in the history of stand-up. In 1981 he quit forever. This book is, in his own words, the story of "why I did stand-up and why I walked away."

Emmy and Grammy Award winner, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Martin has always been a writer. His memoir of his years in stand-up is candid, spectacularly amusing, and beautifully written.

At age ten Martin started his career at Disneyland, selling guidebooks in the newly opened theme park. In the decade that followed, he worked in the Disney magic shop and the Bird Cage Theatre at Knott's Berry Farm, performing his first magic/comedy act a dozen times a week. The story of these years, during which he practiced and honed his craft, is moving and revelatory. The dedication to excellence and innovation is formed at an astonishingly early age and never wavers or wanes.

Martin illuminates the sacrifice, discipline, and originality that made him an icon and informs his work to this day. To be this good, to perform so frequently, was isolating and lonely. It took Martin decades to reconnect with his parents and sister, and he tells that story with great tenderness. Martin also paints a portrait of his times-the era of free love and protests against the war in Vietnam, the heady irreverence of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late sixties, and the transformative new voice of Saturday Night Live in the seventies.

Throughout the text, Martin has placed photographs, many never seen before. Born Standing Up is a superb testament to the sheer tenacity, focus, and daring of one of the greatest and most iconoclastic comedians of all time.

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What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary and A Literary Vacation.

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