May 12, 2013

Standup Guys by John DeBellis

**This book was received as a free Advanced Reader's Copy**

So most of the comics mentioned in this book performed before I was even born. So I have to admit that I just didn't get a lot of the humor or even know who the majority of them were. Or I just don't have a sense of humor (which is quite possible). Regardless, there were some stories here that were very much behind the scenes and not mainstream at all, which I appreciated.

DeBellis was a stand up comedian in the time when there weren't a whole ton of them competing at shows every night of the week just desperate to win a contest and move on up further in the scene. Yes, they were still competing, but the overall tone was very different and friendlier. He uses this book to show his progression through standup comedy and also that of the many people he associated with (Larry David, Rodney Dangerfield, etc.). There is a little about his time writing for tv shows as well.

I hesitate to call what DeBellis does in this book name dropping. Because he was right there doing the same thing as all the other people he mentions. But I did tire of all the name "listing" he did. It seemed for every event there were six or seven people that he'd says so and so one, so and so two, so and so three (do you get the picture yet?) and I all went to this party. I started thinking, "jeez, just get on to the story I don't really care who was there." And I felt that way many times. It just detracted from the book and made the reading more tedious than it had to be. While I appreciated some of the stories about the well known comics, to me, they would have been just as funny had I not known who the people he was talking about were.

I've already mentioned that I didn't know most of the people DeBellis was talking about in this book. And so I'd have to say that his target audience would probably be a little older than me; people who had heard of some of these comics or even seen them live. But the writing itself was actually pretty good. It flowed logically and followed a time line and it read easily and quickly because of this. There were even some jokes thrown in, although I expect they probably would have been funnier in non-print form. And I especially liked all the pictures he included. Seeing pictures of a very young Richard Belzer made my day (as I absolutely adore him on Law & Order SVU). In fact, Richard Belzer being mentioned was the whole reason I decided to read this book.

I can definitely see a different audience having more appreciation for this book than I did. For me the jokes fell a little flat and not knowing all the key figures (or having to endure their names being repeated an inordinate amount in the book) just made it a solid 3.5. It had some decent writing in it, but ultimately just wasn't for me.

Standup Guys
Copyright 2012
245 pages

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