Calvert (How I Quit Smoking and Lived to Tell About It, 2012) shares the often humorous story of his life as a traveling entertainer performing comedy, music and magic both in solo performances and with his wife, Sunny.
These short tales offer a brief glimpse into Calvert’s career as an entertainer, including how he got started in show business, some of the people he’s met along the way and the different places both in the U.S. and abroad where he’s performed. Anecdotal tales about his life as a performer are blended together with clean jokes, many of which will be familiar to most readers. Calvert even tosses in a little word-game riddle, the solution to which he buries in the text at a much later point. As a proud family man, he includes short sections on each of his children. Black-and-white photos that accompany the text feature the author performing, family and friends, locales mentioned in the book, some funny signs and even a couple of Internet memes. Despite this strange mixture of information and a somewhat disjointed style, the book is quite readable, with the first and second chapters consisting of almost nothing but jokes before switching to a memoir style accented by jokes in Chapter 3. The author’s breezy, informal style makes it feel like he’s an old friend casually relating these tales. It doesn’t hurt that he focuses on the humorous stories from throughout his life, such as his early days flying: “I believe I am the only student pilot who has ever landed a plane backward.” His tales of performing tend to focus on entertaining events along the way, such as the day a waiter was enlisted to press the play button on the cassette player at the start of a dance number, though he hit fast forward instead and chaos ensued.
The humor runs the gamut from clever to corny, but the lighthearted, upbeat tone makes for a charming read.