Friday, July 11, 2008


I SHOULDN'T EVEN BE DOING THIS! by Bob Newhart was read for the In Their Shoes Challenge.

From the book jacket:

Most comedians are committable. People say I'm the most normal of all comedians - and I'm still certifiable. - from Chapter One

That stammer. Those basset-hound eyes. That bone-dry wit. There has never been another comedian like Bob Newhart. In this, his first book ever, Newhart gives his brilliant and bemused twist on a multitude of topics, including flying, the trials of a family holiday in a Winnebago, and more serious subjects, such as golf. And, of course, there are side-splittingly funny stories from his life and career. Who else has a drinking game named after him? ("Hi, Bob!")

He writes of his few years as an accountant (he routinely grew so frustrated trying to reconcile petty cash that he would round up and down using his own pocket change). He describes his surprise at the groundbreaking success of his albums, starting with The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, which was the first comedy album ever to hit #1 on the charts and won the Grammy for Album of the Year (beating Sinatra). There are stories from the legendary television shows, which spent fifteen years on prime time, and tales of other comedy greats. Ans as counterpoint throughout, he provides excerpts from some of his classic routines, which revolutionized comedy.

This isn't a memoir like most memoirs. It's a book only Bob Newhart could have written, with his unique worldview and irrepressibly wry humor on every page. Oh, and there's a fair bit of plain silliness, too.

I love Bob Newhart. Back when I was a teenager, my friend Tina and I would listen to an album of his, The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back. He did a bit about computers and automation that included the line "Sit down, machine" done in a computer-type voice that cracked me up. (I guess you had to be there!)

Saturday nights, we always watched The Bob Newhart Show with Bob as Dr. Hartley and Suzanne Pleshette as his wife Emily. Then later, Newhart on Monday nights with Bob as Vermont-inn-owner Dick Louden and Mary Frann as his wife. Do you remember Larry and his brothers Darrell and Darrell? And the fantastic ending to that show?

So it's hard for me to say that I didn't really enjoy this book that much. There were parts that were very good, such as the texts of various comedy routines. Reading those, I could picture Bob and hear his voice. But other parts of the book dragged for me.

I guess I was looking for more Bob Newhart as Dr. Hartley and Dick Louden than Bob Newhart as Bob Newhart.


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