Billy Crystal is turning 65, and he’s not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like “Buying the Plot” and “Nodding Off,” Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him. He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live,When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. Readers get a front-row seat to his one-day career with the New York Yankees (he was the first player to ever “test positive for Maalox”), his love affair with Sophia Loren, and his enduring friendships with several of his idols, including Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. He lends a light touch to more serious topics like religion (“the aging friends I know have turned to the Holy Trinity: Advil, bourbon, and Prozac”), grandparenting, and, of course, dentistry. As wise and poignant as they are funny, Crystal’s reflections are an unforgettable look at an extraordinary life well lived.
Still Foolin’ ‘Em
by Billy Crystal
Henry Holt & Co
September 10, 2013
I’ve been on a serious memoir kick as of late, but not just any memoirs. I’ve become obsessed with hearing the thoughts of comedians. Those who know me outside of Pure Textuality can attest to the fact that I am a comedy NERD. Sure, everyone likes to laugh, but stand-ups are rockstars to me. I grew up in a household where stand-up comedy was a regular thing on our TV, and Saturday Night Live was a weekly must-see.
As I went down the comedian memoir rabbit hole, it’s been hard finding what I was looking for. Sometimes, you just need to feel a particular something and it’s hard to pinpoint what that is. Well, I found it.
I was cruising through Audible and came across a book by Billy Crystal. Billy was another voice in comedy that I grew up with. His comedy is warm and flat-out hilarious. He’s got a way of looking at the world that, to the observer, it feels like he’s still amazed by the world around him while also being aware of the ludicrous nature of humans. As soon as I saw it, I knew that’s what I needed. I downloaded the audiobook and immediately started listening.
First off, I never had any idea he had written any books, let alone a handful of them. I knew he’d done the Broadway show 700 Sundays, but I just found out that it’s a book as well! How did I not know this?!
Anyway, from the moment the book opens, Crystal’s signature humor is there. It’s honest, warm, and relatable. I thought this book was going to be filled with non-stop jokes about the pitfalls of aging. Are those jokes there? Absolutely, but that’s not the core material. Crystal talks about everything from his childhood to the death of his father. He speaks about his heroes and passions. I was positively blown away as I listened to him tell the story of his life as a highlight reel. I’m sure there has been a lot more amazing things that have happened to him, but even if the rest of his life was painfully boring, this man’s life has still been a great, big bucket of win.
I laughed until my sides hurt. I cried my eyes out as my heart ached for losses he spoke of. This was one of the most emotionally touching books I’ve ever read while still being one of the funniest. I wont spoil it for you, but the last chapter will reduce you to a full-on ugly cry. It’s………….I cant even think of a word that describes it well enough. It’s one of the sweetest chapters I’ve ever read in a book, and if I didn’t already adore him enough, that chapter made me wish I was lucky enough to be Billy Crystal’s friend.
SIDE NOTE ABOUT THE AUDIO BOOK – The audio book for Still Foolin’ ‘Em is narrated by Billy himself and, I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, that is the BEST way to hear an audio book: narrated by the author. There is a sense of the author’s intention which sometimes gets lost by having a third party narrate a book, and the best memoirs are always narrated by the author. Tough Shit by Kevin Smith, Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler, The Calliope Reaper-Jones series by Amber Benson – all narrated by their authors and they all have an extra something to them that other audio books don’t have.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good belly laugh and heart-warming stories. This will definitely be an audio book I listen to many times over.
The review copy of Still Foolin’ ‘Em was purchased by the reviewer.
About Billy Crystal
William Jacob Crystal is a Golden Globe Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning American actor, writer, producer, comedian, and film director. He gained prominence in the 1970s for playing Richard Mulligan’s & Cathryn Damon’s TV son, Jodie Dallas, on the ABC comedy-drama, Soap, and became a Hollywood film star during the late 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the box office successes When Harry Met Sally… and City Slickers.