Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama review: Bob Odenkirk reflects on the laughs and lows of his career
"I'm dying," declares Bob Odenkirk in the introduction to his new memoir, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama (out now).
Fortunately, there's no need to panic. The Better Call Saul star, who suffered a heart attack in July, is not referring to his imminent demise. Odenkirk is merely citing an awareness of mortality (dying "in the sense that we all are"), which, he says, is part of what spurred him to write an autobiography; the book concludes prior to his cardiac event. Regardless, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama serves as a readable reminder why so many people last summer rooted for the recovery of its hugely talented author.
As the title hints, Odenkirk goes long on the many years he spent trying to make people laugh. The book details the time he spent as a writer on Saturday Night Live, as a performer on The Larry Sanders Show, and as the partner of David Cross on the groundbreaking HBO sketch series Mr. Show With Bob and David. Along the way, he met a who's who of comedy, from Janeane Garofalo (the two dated for a spell) to the ill-fated Chris Farley, about whom Odenkirk writes with fondness and some regret.
After Odenkirk lost the role of Dunder Mifflin head honcho Michael Scott to Steve Carell on The Office and directed a few films he describes as "painful failures" (2006's Let's Go to Prison, 2007's The Brothers Solomon), his career was revitalized and transformed when he was cast as slippery lawyer Saul Goodman on season 2 of Breaking Bad — a show he had never seen when he was approached about the part.
While Odenkirk has some harsh things to say about his often-absent father ("My dad was rough and too intense, and those were his good qualities"), he is routinely generous about his collaborators. He writes at one point that "to me, the best comedy has an anger in it," and it is perhaps a lack of rage that explains why this memoir tends toward the droll rather than the hilarious. Still, for those seeking a firsthand account of the '90s alternative-comedy scene from one of its prime movers, it's hard to think of a better book upon which to call. Grade: B-
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