Monday, November 27, 2006

Remember Seinfeld on Letterman Last Week? Remember the Book he Plugged?

Ritch Shydner and Mark Schiff, got some good news and some bad news last week.

The good news: Jerry Seinfeld plugged their book, I Killed, on the highest-rated Letterman in years. The bad news: That was the night a shell-shocked Michael Richards made his first broadcast apology for The Tirade. So, who even noticed a simple book plug? Well, me, for one. And I ordered the book.

How often does a talk show guest have more than a single item to plug? Here Seinfeld came with three agenda items for his segment. Three is unheard of. I guess he was originally planning two. But The Tirade made three.

So Jerry used some of his time to help Michael Richards take the single step that begins a thousand-mile journey of redemption. And then to the main item, plugging the release of Season Seven on DVD (the sales of which might depend on how well he did with the first item). And then, for pure bonus points, he plugged I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America's Top Comics. He might have bumped the book to make room for Richards. But he kept it in the segment.

And I'm glad he did because it's a funny book. The subtitle says it all. Top comics tell stories from the road (usually from early in their careers, frequently involving humiliation and pain, sometimes involving uncomfortable cruelty and icy cold ambition). The book is perfect for a short attention-span world. The chapters are brief. They're in no discernable order. Dip in as you will. It's kind of like blog entries, but with more laughs. And no search engine. I wish it had an index.

It's definitely a you'll laugh, you'll cry thing. And you'll get a fine education about show business, ambition, ego, drugs, booze, sex, and America.

I knew Mark Schiff from back in the days when I was dabbling in standup in New York and L.A. He's an intensely funny guy.

As Larry David says in his jacket blurb: "Schiff and Shydner have done it. They've not only written a great book, but have managed to accomplish it without actually doing any writing."

Mickeleh's Take: As for me, here's my standup story: My dad came to see my act one night. He told me, "Next time you get onstage and try to make strangers laugh, remember how you're making your parents cry."

When I went to work for Apple, he got more nachas. And, frankly, I got much better stories.

(What's nachas? It's the inverse of schadenfreude.)

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