Hoping to improve on his "D" in English and retain his eligibility for the football team, class clown Derrick trys to do what is necessary to bring his grade up to an acceptable level.
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A deeply textured and compelling biography of comedy giant Mel Brooks, covering his rags-to-riches life and triumphant career in television, films, and theater, from Patrick McGilligan, the acclaimed author of Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane and Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light. Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy award–winner Mel Brooks was behind (and sometimes in front the camera too) of some of the most influential comedy hits of our time, including The 2,000 Year Old Man, Get Smart, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. But before this actor, writer, director, comedian, and composer entertained the world, his first audience was his family. The fourth and last child of Max and Kitty Kaminsky, Mel Brooks was born on his family’s kitchen table in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926, and was not quite three-years-old when his father died of tuberculosis. Growing up in a household too poor to own a radio, Mel was short and homely, a mischievous child whose birth role was to make the family laugh. Beyond boyhood, after transforming himself into Mel Brooks, the laughs that came easily inside the Kaminsky family proved more elusive. His lifelong crusade to transform himself into a brand name of popular humor is at the center of master biographer Patrick McGilligan’s Funny Man. In this exhaustively researched and wonderfully novelistic look at Brooks’ personal and professional life, McGilligan lays bare the strengths and drawbacks that shaped Brooks’ psychology, his willpower, his persona, and his comedy. McGilligan insightfully navigates the epic ride that has been the famous funnyman’s life story, from Brooks’s childhood in Williamsburg tenements and breakthrough in early television—working alongside Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner—to Hollywood and Broadway peaks (and valleys). His book offers a meditation on the Jewish immigrant culture that influenced Brooks, snapshots of the golden age of comedy, behind the scenes revelations about the celebrated shows and films, and a telling look at the four-decade romantic partnership with actress Anne Bancroft that superseded Brooks’ troubled first marriage. Engrossing, nuanced and ultimately poignant, Funny Man delivers a great man’s unforgettable life story and an anatomy of the American dream of success. Funny Man includes a 16-page black-and-white photo insert.
This dark comedy about celebrity is from the author who is “among the most perceptive and edgy chroniclers of an increasingly coarse American culture” (New York Journal of Books). The funny man is a middling comic in an unnamed city. By day he takes care of his infant son; by night he performs in small clubs. His wife waits tables to support the family. It doesn’t sound like much, but they’re happy, more or less. Until the day he comes up with it. His thing. His gimmick. And everything changes. He’s a headliner, and the venues get bigger fast. Pretty soon he has a starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster, all thanks to the gimmick. Which is: He performs with his fist in his mouth. Jokes, impressions, commercials—all with his fist in his mouth. The people want him—are crazy for him—but only with his fist in his mouth. And the funny man is tired of having his fist in his mouth. Thus, as the novel begins, his career is in tatters, his family has left him, and he’s on trial for shooting an unarmed man six times. His lawyer argues that he is not guilty by reason of celebrity. It remains to be seen whether he can be saved . . . A smart satire of our absurd culture, The Funny Man documents one individual’s slide from everyman to monster—even as it reveals the potential for grace and mercy in his life.
Much has been written about Abraham Lincoln. Almost every account of him makes note of his tremendous sense of humor. Lincoln loved laughter. If he or anyone else could make him the brunt of any joke, all the better. He loved the sound of others laughing. Perhaps it was his simple ordinariness, which put people at ease. Often in conversation he would swing his long leg over the arm of the chair and speak in commonplace language. It was hard to be awed in the presence of Lincoln; he was approachable, human, and simple. He would use humor to disarm opposition, or gain good will. Humor was a safety valve for him. Otherwise, he would have been crushed by all he had to deal with daily.
“Alan Sues was the funniest person I’ve ever known. Not just as a performer, but as a person.” – Ruth Buzzi, castmate from Laugh-In. “When Alan dressed like me in curls, a boa, a dress and false eyelashes, he looked better than me.” – Jo Anne Worley, castmate from Laugh-In. “Alan was so deeply, so genuinely funny that to just think of him makes me laugh.” – Barbara Sharma, castmate from Laugh-In. “We all know how funny and bright Alan Sues was. What was more amazing to me was the sincere sweetness in his heart. He truly wanted to hand the whole world a big laugh.” – Joyce Van Patten, actress. “Alan was a true comedy original.” – Fred Willard, actor. “Alan was a very talented performer who everyone loved having around. He was hilarious. He was always funny, even when he wasn’t trying to be.” – Gary Owens, castmate from Laugh-In. “Alan was a delight, a real upper. He was a happy force field of energy who had an outrageous look at life. He could take a straight line and make it funny as hell.” – George Schlatter, Exec. Prod. of Laugh-In. About the Author Michael Gregg Michaud is the author of the critically acclaimed, Lambda Book Award nominated Sal Mineo, A Biography (Crown Archetype, 2010). Michaud is the co-author, with actress Diane McBain, of Famous Enough, A Hollywood Memoir (Bearmanor Media, 2014). He writes about Hollywood history, and has contributed to numerous books about show business. He is also an award winning poet, and photographer. Follow him on Facebook.
Dostoyevsky is intimately linked with his heroes. It is his blood that courses through their veins, and his heart that beats in all of them. Dostoyevsky brings forth his characters in anguish, with throbbing pulse and breath that is gasping and labored. He commits the crimes his heroes commit, lives their titanically turbulent lives, repents with them, and is with them in his thoughts, which shake heaven and earth. Because of his urge to go through more and more experience with them with such terrible concreteness, we are shaken by him as by no one else.
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