Octogenarian Burns has spent so much time as a straight man--for his wife Gracie Allen, for Carol Channing, in vaudeville, on radio and TV, as a solo self-deflator at Vegas, and in his Oscar-winning role in The Sunshine Boys--that much of his material here seems to be waiting for an audience response or for the topper that can come only in Burns' roguish smile or his cigar-ash knockings. The finest moment in his softshoe patter-memoir arrives at the laying out of his best friend Jack Benny: ""When I went into the room he was lying there with his hands clasped in that familiar manner and his head cocked to one side--he looked as though he were taking one of his long pauses."" Burns is also strong when talking about Gracie, and especially about her last years and how he would hold her during her heart flutters. Forever genial, his motto for a life in nonretirement is, If you don't use it, you'll lose it. The book needs pruning but gets better as it builds and his humor sharpens its edge; his best, less genial, is at the very end and shows how very funny his rasp can be.