Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Recent Reading - And Here's the Kicker

It's a book marketing cliche to say that a book will appeal to specialists as well as casual readers or fans. In the case of this book of interviews with humor writers, though, I think it's true. Mike Sacks digs deep enough with his subjects to hold the attention of insiders and hardcore comedy nerds, but the work being discussed is familiar enough to be of interest to those who like good comedy but aren't necessarily hip to the back stories of the Muppet Show pilot (subtitled "Sex and Violence"!) or George Meyer's Army Man magazine. Sacks knows about all these things. He comes across as the model of the well-prepared interviewer, and, based on the material they give him, his subjects seem to appreciate it. Among the nuggets of anecdote gold: a narrowly averted Marlon Brando/Dick Cavett threesome and Milton Berle's member likened to a cured meat product by SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY SAW IT!

While some of the interviewees are widely-known names, many others have been the key behind-the-scenes forces responsible for some very big name projects - Annie Hall, The Office (US and British versions), The Simpsons, The Onion, SNL. I alternated between being impressed at the big-name "gets" (Dick Cavett, Buck Henry) and amazed at the extensive resumes of others I was less familiar with than I should've been (Marshall Brickman, Larry Wilmore, Irving Brecher). I read the book out of order, starting with those I was most interested in and jumping around from there, but I found myself enjoying all of it. For a pop culture junkie like me, it's a pretty strong hit.

Bonus Link

One of the best of interviewee Jack "Deep Thoughts" Handey's pieces for The New Yorker

1 comment:

Eric said...

My favorite Deep Thought:

You know what would make a good story? A clown that made everybody but was sad on the inside. And he also had a severe case of diarrhea.