Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Still Foolin' 'Em by Billy Crystal

Nominated for a 2014 Grammy in the Spoken Word category! 

Hilarious and heartfelt observations on aging from one of America's favorite comedians, now that he's 65, and a look back at a remarkable career. 

Billy Crystal is 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, and 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. Listeners 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. 

Still Foolin' 'Em includes a portion recorded in front of a live studio audience.

Received for review.

I love Billy Crystal and his movies.  He just seems like a really cool guy.  So I was excited to learn that he had released a memoir.  I was even more excited to learn that he was the one performing the audiobook edition.  

The book was very interesting.  I was a bit saddened to learn that he did not enjoy his time as Jody on Soap since I really liked him as the character.  Now I can't watch the show again without it being slightly tainted by the knowledge that he really didn't want to be playing Jody.

I'd known the author was a baseball fan but I didn't realize how much of a fan he was until I read about him playing for the Yankees for his birthday.  That really brought tears to my eyes hearing him tell the story!

Overall, this was an incredible journey through a fascinating man's life.  It definitely changed the way that I view the author and his movies.  And I now have an almost overwhelming urge to go watch When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers again now that I know their backstories.

The audiobook edition is made infinitely better by Billy actually performing his own material.  He doesn't just read it - he performs it.  It's a wonderful change from the normally quite dry memoirs.  Billy's charm comes through in every sentence and you can't help smiling, laughing, and crying along with him.

Whether you're already a fan of his films and want to know more about the man, or just want to follow along on a truly fascinating journey this is an excellent book.  I definitely recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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