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I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America's Top Comics Hardcover – October 3, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Some of the funniest—and most outrageous—stories a comedian has don't get told onstage. They're passed around after hours and derive from the bizarre intersection of travel, intoxicants and the colorful characters on the fringes of the comedy world. (A little poverty can't hurt—the best stories from "top comics" often come from the early days.) In this collection, Ron Shock tells of being goaded by outlaw comic Bill Hicks into dropping acid before a show, infuriating the audience and escaping just in time. Jay Leno recounts how he accidentally left a groupie tied to her bed overnight—and she loved it. Black comic Alonzo Bodden recalls ripping into a redneck from the stage and having audience members tell him later that his target ran the local Klan. Shydner, early in his career, performed regularly at a variety of bars around Washington, D.C., and found himself opening for a riled-up audience eager to see the Ramones. He suffered through a "beer shower," and one of the Ramones thought that was his act: human beer sponge. Jerry Seinfeld, in his foreword, calls comedy "one of the Great Jobs"; this volume makes for excellent bathroom reading—and that's a compliment. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jerry Seinfeld, the Emmy award-winning comedian, writer and actor, starred for nine years in Seinfeld, one of the most acclaimed sitcoms of all time. He is the author of a previous #1 bestselling book for adults, Seinlanguage, and a one-man HBO special, "I'm Telling You For the Last Time." He resides in New York with his wife, Jessica, and a young daughter, Sasha.
James Bennett has illustrated for many major publications, including Time, Sports Illustrated, Business Week, and Mad Magazine. Last year he received the Hamilton King Award from the Society of Illustrators for Best Illustration of the Year. He lives and works in Bucks County, with his wife, Susan, and their two young boys, Steven and Brett.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307341992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307341990
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Publishers' Weekly review on this page says this book is fantastic "bathroom reading." I guess they mean that it's perfect for people who don't always have time to sit down and read for an hour or two at a stretch. Because the stories in here are so short, it's easy to read for ten minutes, get a few complete stories and good chuckles, and then put the book down for next time. There are well over a hundred stories in here so if you read the book this way it'll last you for a while!

The feeling of the book is a bit like the documentary The Aristocrats-- you get the feeling that the comics are not "performing" but just sitting back and exchanging their favorite crazy stories. Not all the stories are hilarious, but most of them are very entertaining and there are some that will stick in my mind for a LONG time. Some of the stuff these guys confess to is great--Chris Rock talking about call girls, Tom Arnold about murdering goldfish, many, many stories of one-night stands and drug use. I think my favorite story has to be Doug Stanhope's one about the 5-dollar streetwalker who turns out to have a couple of surprises hidden away. I also loved the one about the comic's mother and Rodney Dangerfield.

This is also a good book for anyone interested in the history of comedy--along with all the contemporary stuff, there are lots of stories about legendary comedy greats like Rodney Dangerfield, Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor, Andy Kaufman (Bob Zmuda contributes a great story about the Tony Clifton character).

This book doesn't go for the gross-out humor nearly as much as The Aristocrats did, but because it shows comics talking how they REALLY talk, it is definitely PG-13 or R-rated. But if you don't need your humor to be squeaky, sit-com clean (I certainly dont) then you will really get a kick out of this book.
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Format: Hardcover
A warning label should be posted on this book: Please allocate 4-6 hours of time before opening this book. You will not be able to put it down. I truly enjoyed this compilation of stories from the comedy trenches.

It will give me a lot more fodder for the next time I talk with these stand up road warriors. Buy it, and enjoy it.

Rik Anthony

National Host

All Star Radio Networks
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Format: Hardcover
As soon as I started reading this book, I could not put it down. I quickly was engrossed in story after story of interesting anecdotes as to a comic's true life on the road. There are definitely some chuckles in this very entertaining book, but the reader will quickly be deeply engrossed in the faceted sides of comedy, and to the totally unknown non-glamorous side of being a stand-up comic. If I ever had illusions of being a comedian and basking in the applause and endearments of the audience, these illusions have disappeared. This is definitely not a life for the sensitive personality. By the middle of the book I felt as if I knew all of the comedians personally, and I could comprehend their varied experiences and anguishes of being on the road.

I can easily visualize this book as a weekly television series of comedian's experiences on the road.

I am sure that there are many more stories which the authors have up their sleeves, and I anxiously await book 2 which I would call "I Killed Again".

The authors are to be congratulated.
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Format: Hardcover
There is very little comic insight in this book. A collection of short tales of debauchery and wild drug use that road comics would tell each other, the book makes a normal person feel like a rube who bought a ticket to the freak show. (Yes, there is just a hint of envy in that last statement.) Some of the stories are funny, in a "Porky's" sort of ashamed-that-I'm-laughing way.

Having said that, there are some high points in the book: Heath Hyche's "The N-Word Wins"; Steven Alan Green's "Spartacus Finally Gets a Laugh"; Larry the Cable Guy's story about John Fox; Dennis Blair's "My Mom Loves George Carlin." If you think of comics sitting around a table at the Waffle House at 3:00 a.m., swapping stories, then you'll get the idea. That may be the book's weak spot: it's geared toward other comics.

The reason I gave I KILLED only three stars is because it didn't really satisfy. Emotionally, the reader goes back and forth from awe to disgust to sad to inspired. If they released the DVD of this book, with the comedians telling the stories, I'd probably buy it, because I believe that how you tell these stories is the key to making them more entertaining. It just barely worked as a book.
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Format: Hardcover
I can manage saying something now and then to make someone else laugh. And I while I don't do much in the way of public performance, I don't have anything like stage fright. But I got shivers of anxiety when reading some of the stories in _I Killed: True Stories from the Road from America's Top Comics_ (Crown Publishers) by Ritch Shydner and Mark Schiff. There is a strong prospect of anxiety in anticipation of being shoved onto a stage with the assignment of getting laughs from a paying audience, perhaps an audience that would feel itself better entertained if you fell flat on your face, and is willing to take steps to make this happen. The anxiety is apparent in the title of the book, the comics' aggressive cry of success, of victory over an opposition seated on the other side of the footlights. Yet the anxiety feeds back into the humor; most of the stories here are better labeled "I Died", for they are not success stories at all. But the stories of failure here are resurrected into funny stories that are bound to get laughs this time around. These true stories (true, but no doubt colored in varying degrees by the tellers, scores of now-famous comics) are a wonderful record by practitioners of a very peculiar art form.

Many of these stories come as memories of the bad old days when the comics were just starting out and if the pay was forthcoming (it wasn't always) it was measly. Many stories here involve getting stiffed of a paycheck and perhaps therefore having to sneak back into the club late at night just to have a place to sleep. Plenty of the clubs you would not want to sleep in; Judy Tenuta remembers, "It's the winter of 1981 in Chicago, with maybe ten people in the audience, when a rat (the four-legged kind) runs across the stage.
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