March 15, 2014
Still Foolin' 'Em
Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal
2013 Macmillan Audio
Reader: Billy Crystal
Finished on 1/3/14
Rating: 2.5/5 (Fair)
Hilarious and heartfelt observations on aging from one of America’s favorite comedians as he turns 65, and a look back at a remarkable career.
Billy Crystal is turning 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, 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. Readers 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.
Nora Ephron may feel bad about her neck, but Billy Crystal feels terrible about turning 65! The first three chapters of this memoir, which are read before a live audience (on this audio production), are laugh-out-loud hilarious . One might say they’re crass, but they are oh, so funny. After listening to them on my Nano at work, I came home and played them for my husband, who agreed they were very funny. Unfortunately, the remainder of the book fell flat. I’m not sure if my disappointment lies in the performance by Crystal or in the material. As a stand-up comedian, Billy Crystal is extremely funny, but the remaining chapters (which weren’t performed before a live audience) are read exactly as written in the book. This is what one would expect from an audio book, but Crystal’s timing was off as he stumbled over the words, pausing at the wrong place in his anecdote, making for a very awkward listening experience. If that wasn’t enough, I also grew weary of the constant name-dropping, which made this memoir feel like one big brag fest.
I loved Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally, Forget Paris and City Slickers. I also enjoyed watching him when he hosted the Oscars and I think it would be great fun to see him perform before a live audience. However, listening to him read his own memoir was quite the disappointment. If you’re still curious, borrow the book from your library. This one's not a keeper.