Friday 3 September 2021

Book ~ "Inside Comedy: The Soul, Wit, and Bite of Comedy and Comedians of the Last Five Decades" (2021) David Steinberg

From Goodreads ~ From David Steinberg, a rabbi's son from Winnipeg, Canada, who at age fifteen enrolled at Hebrew Theological College in Chicago (the rabbinate wasn't for him) and four years later, entered the master's program in English literature at the University of Chicago, until he saw Lenny Bruce, the Blue Boy of Comedy, the coolest guy Steinberg had ever seen, and joined Chicago's Second City improvisational group, becoming, instead the comedian's comedian, director, actor, working with, inspired by, teaching, and learning from the most celebrated, admired, complicated comedians, then and now - a funny, moving, provocative, insightful look into the soul, wit, and bite of comedy and comedians - a universe unto itself - of the last half-century.

From the greats: George Burns, Lenny Bruce, Sid Caesar, Lucille Ball, Mel Brooks, and Carl Reiner, et al., to the newer greats: Carol Burnett, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Billy Crystal, Bob Newhart, and the man for all comedy, Martin (Marty) Short; to the greats of right now: Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Wanda Sykes; and more.

Steinberg, through stories, reminiscences, tales of directing, touring, performing, and through the comedians themselves talking (from more than 75 interviews), makes clear why he loves comedy and comedians who have been by his side in his work, and in his life, for more than sixty years.

Here are: Will Ferrell, Eric Idle, Whoopi Goldberg, Mike Myers, Groucho himself and the greatest of them all (at least of the last half century), Jonathan Winters.

David Steinberg is a Canadian comedian, actor, writer and director ... I remember watching The David Steinberg Show when I was a kid and catching it in reruns over the years.  I like reading bios/autobios to learn more about people and get the inside scoop so this book caught my eye.

Steinberg started off doing stand-up.  He ended up on The Smothers Brothers in the late 1960s and his act was one of the reasons it was cancelled.  His career has included acting and directing shows like Friends, Newhart, Curb Your Enthusiasm and lots more.

I thought this book was okay.  He tells stories about the comedians and actors he knows and counts as friends ... from Groucho Marx, Jonathan Winters and George Burns to John Candy, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams to Will Ferrell, Chris Rock and Jimmy Fallon.

For the most part, I found it interesting hearing about people from someone who knew them.  I thought at times he rambled and was repetitive ... the writing could have been tighter.  As I was reading, I would come across a name from the past I'd forgotten about so I'd stop and Google them (so I got sidetracked often).  Steinberg is Jewish and there were lots of Jewish references ... I'm not so didn't know what he was talking about.

No comments: