Kirkus Reviews QR Code


The Life Of A Perennial TV Guest Star

by Fred Stoller

Pub Date: May 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-62087-706-7
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

A view from the trenches of show business by a comic actor straddling the line between success and obscurity.

In the foreword, Ray Romano praises Stoller, who had an occasional guest role on Everybody Loves Raymond, as someone who “without fail…always ‘brought’ the funny” and proceeds to describe this memoir as a “hilarious, honest look at the world of the working actor.” The hilarity may be more of an inside joke; the author seems more concerned with illuminating the struggles of actors, and with settling a few grudges along the way (bad dates, unappreciative colleagues), than with delivering laughs. As he explains early on, “In the Screen Actors Guild, 90 percent of the active members are out of work at any given time and 10 percent work for less than eight weeks a year…I’m thrilled to be working in a union where only 2 percent of the members work.” So even though he has “done more than sixty sitcom guest appearances,” on hits such as Seinfeld (where he was also a writer for a season, an experience he chronicled in My Seinfeld Year, 2012) and Friends, he describes a life of uncertainty and insecurity, working with agents and coaches that he isn’t sure are doing him any good and waiting for offers that might take months, even years to materialize. He reveals which casts were friendly and which paid little attention to a week’s guest, he shares the joy of being well-fed on some (and not so well on others), and he frets over sharing a bathroom. Said one casting director after a typical audition, “That’s an interesting way to go. It’s supposed to be a typical, annoying comedian, but you read it as if you were a special-ed kid, who’s pathetic and takes night courses on how to be a comedian.” He explains to readers, “I was basically just being me.”

A lightweight, sometimes-funny showbiz memoir from a successful background player.