A debut book of humorous, autobiographical essays from a self-described “doctor of comedy.”
In this book, stand-up comic and occasional actor Chamberlain covers everything from his ongoing battle with his weight to his childhood memories of the 1954 giant-ant movie Them!, which he says terrified him. Chamberlain’s tales call to mind those of Jean Shepherd of A Christmas Story fame, and there are some funny lines here. For instance, he likens locating a parking spot in San Francisco to “finding a Super Bowl ticket in a box of Cracker Jack.” Indeed, the book tries to elicit a chuckle with almost every sentence—a pace that makes it feel more like a stand-up routine than a collection of essays. The book faces a big obstacle, though, in the fact that it’s in a hugely popular genre—one that’s been tackled by many better-known comedians. However, Chamberlain does have one advantage over such big names: his stories about life on the fringes of showbiz, which are his most effective chapters. Just reading the names of some of the lesser-known comedy clubs that once flourished around the country is amusing: “The Chuckle Hut,” “Ha Ha’s,” “Giggles.” So are his comments about working the murder mystery dinner theater circuit, and his tale of auditioning for a small role as a mental patient in the 1998 Robin Williams vehicle Patch Adams. More of these types of tales and fewer about other aspects of the author’s everyday life—such as an account of his father adjusting a TV antenna on the roof—would have worked to the book’s advantage. Also, there are inaccuracies in a few essays; the author says that The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) starred Lon Chaney when it actually starred Oliver Reed, and he renders Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly’s name as “Bill O’Rielly.”
A sometimes-amusing but uneven collection.