Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America's Top Comics

Lately there has been a dreadful trend in comedy of filming tours and compiling DVDs of the between-show antics. I guess the premise is that comedians are funny all the time. But they aren't, and those "on the road" DVDs are an awful waste of time. As a wanna-be comedian (I can be funny, but I can't tell jokes worth a darn), I should appreciate such glimpses into the lives of touring comedians, lives that I, on some level, dream of living. But I don't because they just aren't funny (David Cross: Let America Laugh was so bad I ejected it halfway through, and I never do that).

I Killed, compiled by Ritch Shydner and Mark Schiff, is what those self-indulgent DVDs wish they could be. The book collects stories from dozens of comedians ranging from old-timers like Red Buttons to Jay Leno to Larry the Cable Guy. Because only a tale or two from each lifetime of travel are included, you get only the very best. There are some duds, but most of the stories are at least amusing and some are wet-your-pants hilarious. There is a bit of insider jargon, but it's easy enough to figure out. Because the stories are never more than a few pages long, I Killed is convenient for people who only get small chunks of time to read. Just make sure it's someplace where it's okay to chuckle.

I don't want to ruin any stories, so here is a short one in its entirety from a page titled "Not In New York Anymore"

* Joey Novick We were three New York comedians in the Deep South, and the directions given to us by the club were, "Go past the Italian restaurant." We drove back and forth for an hour till we realized the "Italian restaurant" was a Pizza Hut.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stand-up comedy.

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