Takes a light, self-deprecating approach, injecting some comic relief into a calamitous experience with hair loss.

Hell Toupee


A self-conscious funnyman recalls the series of stressful misfortunes that caused his unflattering hair loss.

Brooklyn comedian Friedman (Totally Tuneless, 2014) first noticed his thinning hair in the early ’80s after a succession of tragic events rattled his life. The domino effect of his parents’ bitter divorce, a breakup, and turning 30 all contributed to the author’s ever-expanding bald spot. Lamenting the incremental loss of what was once a “clownishly large natural...Jew-fro,” Friedman appealed to “Head Restart for Men.” The $1,500 treatments involved a series of visits to a Manhattan clinic where a toupee-like “hair system” was glued to Friedman’s head. A droll comedy of errors began at his office as the paranoid author was scrutinized by critical co-workers; then there was a snafu involving the clinic applying the wrong hairpiece to his scalp, adding insult to injury. Readers will sympathize with Friedman as he attempts to work his way up the New York improv comedy circuit with classes and auditions, only to be stymied by the daily high-maintenance routine required by his hair treatment. Interesting though unevenly distributed, Friedman’s book (its title is a classic Simpsons pun) is padded with anecdotes on his post-collegiate years traveling Europe, writing song lyrics, and looking for a girlfriend. As his stage star rose, Friedman eventually dispensed with his “pseudo-hair,” ushering in an epiphany that dissolved his insecurities and made room for personal renewal. He adds warmth and depth to eloquent details of a Jewish upbringing influenced by his father, an enthusiastic, egotistical salesman with a comb-over and an infectious sense of humor. Aside from baseball, a youthful obsession with Charlie Chaplin fueled Friedman’s interest in live-performance theatrical roles, which also offered a creative distraction from his embittered, divorcing parents. During his first years at college, his bald spot began spreading as Friedman experimented with marijuana, first love, and a disastrous attempt at selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners

Takes a light, self-deprecating approach, injecting some comic relief into a calamitous experience with hair loss. 

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9863008-0-6

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Lewis Avenue Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2015

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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