I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This! Review
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He flunked out of law school, lived with his mom and dad until he was 29, and didn’t pass his driving test until the age of 33. What a loser! No, he’s actually the hilarious and droll Bob Newhart. When I browsed the bookstore shelf, I just had to grab his memoir, I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!: And Other Things That Strike Me as Funny.

Many of you will remember Bob from either his days as a stand-up comic, his long-running sitcoms—The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978) and Newhart (1982-1990)—or his stints on Saturday Night Live and Desperate Housewives. Known for his stammer and his low-key delivery, Bob released the 1960 album, The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart, which was the first comedy album to shoot to number one in the charts. It also received three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, beating out Frank Sinatra.

I began reading this book with hesitation. Since I’ve found most celebrity autobiographies to be narcissistic, with pages oozing with self-pity, I feared that I’d lose respect and admiration for one of my favorite comedians. But I was pleasantly surprised. Newhart has an upbeat outlook on life and seeks the comedy in all situations.

In his book, Bob details the origins of his famous routines, as well as relationship with other comedians and actors of the day. Don Adams from the 1960s series Get Smart stole his “bit”; Clifton Webb (Mr. Belvedere) asked him to dance at a party…. In reading it, you get a feel of old Hollywood.

The best entertainment, though, is in the story telling. Bob brings his wry humor (when you least expect it) to every situation in his life—from his work in a bowling alley to his relationship with wife, Ginnie, and the Winnebago trip from hell. How does a comedian deal with hecklers and bombing on stage? He explains, “Perversity is an innate trait in comedians, and dealing with dumb audiences requires perversity. When you face a dumb audience, it’s worse than being heckled because they just sit and stare at you.” He later goes on, “Maybe it’s comedians’ twisted sense of the world, but we remember our worst routines word for word.”

This is a quick, light read and a wonderful diversion. So if you crave some laughs as you delve into the life of one of America’s most talented comedians, pick up I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!: And Other Things That Strike Me as Funny. Just be warned that while reading in public, you may receive glares as you blurt out with sudden, unexpected chuckles.

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