Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shelf Life [adult]

Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell are my Keys? By Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal is a name synonymous with comedy, so it should come as no surprise that his latest memoir induces snorts and other unladylike sounds of laughter at frequent intervals. Like any good comedian, Mr. Crystal knows the value of pacing, and Still Foolin’ ‘Em measures out equal doses of laughs and loving memories of his childhood in Long Island, his early career, and his adored wife Janice and their children, one after another. A Hollywood A-lister like Mr. Crystal does not shy away from name-dropping or telling tales out of school either, but he is never sordid; in fact some of his most obviously favourite people are not the actors with whom he has worked, but rather the sports figures who have been his real-life heroes, most notably Kareen Abdul Jabar and Muhammad Ali (although he dishes on a few anti-sports heroes, too). Although in a few years some of his references will be passé (like Lindsay Lohan we can only hope), others will strike readers as being terribly memorable – the all-too-personal close call when the twin towers fell on 9/11, and its aftermath, which left the native New Yorker feeling unfunny for years. And the (surreally local) turn of events that led to Mr. Crystal turning once again to stand-up after meeting with Des McAnuff – former artistic director of the Stratford Festival – and the creative process that let him find his passion for performing again, turning his standup into the Tony-Award winning one-man show, 700 Sundays. Lest you begin to think that this is just another Hollywood memoir, remember that Billy Crystal’s humour is highly visual, and readers will not only hear his voice coming through the printed word, but you’ll be able to imagine his anecdotes as Saturday Night Live sketches in your head. I’ll also drop this in – Billy Crystal just turned 65, a baby-boomer like millions of others, and he kvetches lyrically about the weird and wonderful things that happen as we age – going to your children’s weddings, holding grandchildren, taking more naps than the grandchildren, forgetting names, keys, how to have sex… it’s all in here, and it will make you laugh, and the advice he dispenses is worth it – because first and foremost, Billy Crystal comes across as a decent man, and a family guy. He’s someone to truly admire and that’s a rare commodity in Hollywood these days.

Reserve a copy of Still Foolin’ ‘Em at spl.bibliocommons.com under the tag Shelf Life Reviewed.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on September 26, 2013. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian.

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