Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Comedian With a Heart

We just finished listening to Martin Short's moving memoir, I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend, on our trip home. I am glad, first of all, that we did the audio book version with Short himself doing the reading. That way we got the "real deal" of Short's characters and own way of presenting his story.

Two things stand out in my mind about the book. First, it gives a down-to-earth view of celebrities that we see often- Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Paul Shaffer, Bill Murray, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn and Short himself. As Short tells his story and these friends of his show up, we find that they are just every-day people in their own world. While they may be in a whole different culture than most of us, within their culture and relationships they do the same things as we do. They sit on balconies and look at the ocean, on the porch of a cabin and watch the water on the lake. They go to the doctors and have fun times together. They call each other up on the phone and go shopping.

They also have the pains of life that we all have. Which is the second outstanding element of Short's memoir- he lays bear the pain of his life. His brother's sudden death while Short was a teenager, the death of his mother, the father who was like so many other fathers of the 50s and 60s and finally, the death of his wife of 36 years in 2010. His reflections on these events go deep into the ins and outs of being human and coping with life. They speak of the heart- and to the heart. He doesn't sugar-coat them not give glib answers. You can tell that through a lifetime of deaths in his life, he has wrestled with what the meanings are- for him.

As we were driving listening to the last sections of the book about his wife's death, my wife and I found ourselves crying. He doesn't play the emotions, he simply tells the story and his reactions. We could not stay dry-eyed. Short is of our generation, of course, and we are soon to celebrate 43 years together. The deep loss of the death of a spouse is not something to avoid. As Short presents it, when it happens, it will hurt, deeply and forever, but these difficult times are difficult because we have had a good life together.

While not one to regularly listen to audio books, I highly recommend this one instead of just reading it. You will get Martin Short at his best and most human.

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