Usually I’ll start a review by explaining my feelings or knowledge going into a new franchise or series when its a topic we haven’t gone into before, as most biographies will be. Very few people reach a level of celebrity or public interest that they warrant multiple novel-length biographies without going into the realm of overt embellishment. There are exceptions, even meaningful ones. I really shouldn’t generalize.
This task of explaining what I know about the subject matter at play is much more difficult when it is a biography, and even more so when that biography is about a comedian… and at the same time, its very simple. My feelings, experiences, cultural background and knowledge pertaining to humble comedy legend Martin Short can be summed up in six simple words:
“I do not like Martin Short.”
Like I said, that’s pretty simple. But at the same time, that’s a little harsh and its actually more complicated than that. When anyone who has never actually met a celebrity says they don’t like them, they’re actually practicing synecdoche. It’s like saying “I don’t like Stephen King.” What you really mean is that you don’t like Stephen King’s writing. At least, that’s what I hope you mean. Unless you’re some kind of crazy person who takes issue with an artist based on your highly subjective feelings about their art. If you are that sort of crazy: good for you. Please leave this site right away, I have no idea what I might say to offend you and lord knows my ego is fragile enough as it is without having to worry about someone else hating me.
So when I say “I do not like Martin Short,” what I really should be saying is “I do not find Martin Short funny.” I find Martin Short the person quite kind and likable from what I’ve seen in interviews. I don’t use the word “unhate-able” to describe many people, but I would hazard to say that Martin Short the person seems to be one of nicest people in existence, which makes it all the more difficult that his humor just doesn’t do it for me. But what can one do? Humor is a very subjective thing, and one cannot please everyone.
So that should be the end of this review right? Nope, not by a long shot.
Because I was happy to find that, despite the title and subtitle, this wasn’t really a comedy book. This wasn’t a book like Napalm and Silly Putty, which was simply the comedian’s act put into a word processor. This book actually functions as an autobiography of Martin Short, which is actually infinitely more interesting and captivating than anything he has produced from a comedy standpoint. This man lost his brother and both his parents at a very young age, and rather than responding to it with bitterness or anger, chose to become one of the nicest, most heartfelt comedians on the planet. In that way, this is a story of overcoming extreme personal tragedy and adversity, and that is something I can absolutely get behind.
A large portion of this book deals with the death of Short’s wife, and it is truly heartbreaking. Cancer is a disease that touches us all in some way, shape, or form . Short also lost long-time girlfriend Gilda Radner to cancer.
A heartbreaking, and sadly obligatory at this point, scene involves a ominous precursor to the suicide of comedy legend Robin Williams, in which Williams (while staying in the Short household) sits in his room and sadly looks outside at children playing, able to watch people being happy but being unable to be a part of it himself.
This is an amazing book about dealing with tragedy and adversity, and I recommend it to anyone and everyone.