Kirkus Reviews QR Code
RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR by Gilbert Gottfried


by Gilbert Gottfried

Pub Date: April 26th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-66811-2
Publisher: St. Martin's

The longtime funnyman and voice actor gets personal about his life and hard-won fame.

In his own unique, uproarious way, Gottfried approached the writing of his first book much the same way he performs his comedy act, by expressing “whatever pops into my head, very often without a conscious thought.” The result is a rollicking imbroglio of a memoir, as off-color as Gottfried followers have come to expect from the heckling jester. What the author considers the “big, sock-o opening” amounts to an explicit play-by-play from a botched tryst with a stripper. He wisely tones down the hyperactive wisecracking to recollect his Brooklyn childhood, the summer-camp histrionics, his father’s questionable hardware store and the genesis of his comedy career at age 15 in New York City. Gottfried writes of the “small success” his offbeat material and gravelly voiced delivery afforded him on the stand-up comedy circuit. Those qualities soon captured the attention of producers at MTV, Saturday Night Live, Hollywood film studios and commercial television. He jokes that his career has “walked a tightrope between early-morning children’s programming and hardcore porn.” Gottfried’s lengthy reflections from a silly stint on the Hollywood Squares are as airily entertaining as droll ruminations about his Jewish heritage, random encounters with Bea Arthur and Harrison Ford and the inside joke behind the book’s title. To the uninitiated, the comedian is an acquired taste and often strains the boundaries of good taste, while others revel in his unapologetically raunchy material. Hardly cathartic and more than a little self-indulgent, Gottfried’s narrative assails with one-liners, crude expletives and punchy self-deprecation right down to the very last page, where he thanks his publisher for  “waiting until I left the room to say, ‘Who thought a Gilbert Gottfried book was a good idea?’ ”

Crude rib-tickling for die-hard fans, but a downer for those seeking more than surface shtick.