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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT FICTION!
Anyone who has ever seen "Tootsie" or several episodes of "M.A.S.H." or the Broadway musical comedy "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" (one of the very few musicals that is actually also a COMEDY!) knows how very funny Gelbart is.
With this volume of articles, memories, and even bits of scripts, Gelbart helps us understand...
Published on April 29, 2001 by MOVIE MAVEN

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What, did Gelbart need a new Mercedes?
It's as though Larry Gelbart told his editor to rummage around for some material, no matter how old and outdated, and slap together a book. What a shame. Gelbart has the credentials to deliver an insightful look at American comedy and yet he gave us an aimless, rambling, long-winded series of pages that seemed to end when the page count got high enough. If you must read...
Published on October 3, 2008 by Avid Mac


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT FICTION!, April 29, 2001
By 
MOVIE MAVEN (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Anyone who has ever seen "Tootsie" or several episodes of "M.A.S.H." or the Broadway musical comedy "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" (one of the very few musicals that is actually also a COMEDY!) knows how very funny Gelbart is.
With this volume of articles, memories, and even bits of scripts, Gelbart helps us understand why he has won awards in every medium he's written for, why he is so respected and, obviously, loved by people who work with him. This is a delightful, much-too-brief book, worthwhile if only for its appreciation of performers from Jack Benny to Whoopie Goldberg.
One of the other on-line reviewers has called this book the "worst kind of popular pulp fiction trash." And it very well might be, were it not for the fact that it is TRUTH, NOT FICTION.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What, did Gelbart need a new Mercedes?, October 3, 2008
By 
This review is from: Laughing Matters (Hardcover)
It's as though Larry Gelbart told his editor to rummage around for some material, no matter how old and outdated, and slap together a book. What a shame. Gelbart has the credentials to deliver an insightful look at American comedy and yet he gave us an aimless, rambling, long-winded series of pages that seemed to end when the page count got high enough. If you must read this, prepare to skip half.

In the half you don't skip, you will find certain nuggets of insight in this book. In most cases, though, you will learn more by reading between the lines. Without intending to, Gelbart has given us a snapshot of a once-funny comedic mind who is reduced to repackaging once-funny material. It's an approach that doesn't work in standup, and it doesn't work here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Time or Money, July 18, 2014
This book is an embarrassment that a so-called famous writer should allow himself to be associated with it. Out of the 240 plus pages, maybe 40 have relevancy and hold interest. The rest is basically a collaborative effort between Gelbart and his editor to throw out stream of consciousness thoughts on any and every subject. There is a diatribe on politics with Gelbart exposing his leftist tendencies. We get very little background on the making of Mash and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum that isn't better told elsewhere.

The most repeated theme is how Gelbart has constantly been hired and fired on various projects because that is the way the ball bounces. Maybe this project should have also been bounced. Don't waste your time or money.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For those who fondly remember Sid Caesar, etc..., November 16, 2007
By 
This book is most effective in the brief section that deals with Gelbart's own beginnings, particularly his family. The disappointingly few pages discussing his association with M*A*S*H* were both entertaining and enlightening but probably should have been half the book instead of just one chapter. If you are a big fan of the films "Tootsie" or "Oh God" (this reviewer isn't) you might find those pieces worth reading. And then there's the other 80% of the book, which was about movies that never got made, plays that most people never saw, and some modestly interesting descriptions of the old radio days and the dawn of television. But if you aren't old enough to remember (let alone care about) Jack Benny and Milton Berle, then you may not be too interested in these sections, either. This book would be best suited to those of Gelbart's generation, or those who have a very close connection to the entertainment industry. The worst part of this book? Gelbart's whining about the hassles of the writer's life. Everybody has the right to vent once in a while, but there was no reason to include these pieces here. Taken all around, show business was very good to Larry, but you wouldn't know it from this book.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the great career book that Gelbart has in him, April 13, 1998
By A Customer
This book is a grabbag of stray pieces and brief recollections (interrupted by odd notes from the editor, who seems to have forced these contributions from Gelbart). Almost all are entertaining in themselves but they don't add up to the comprehensive overview that such a varied and stellar career deserves. The best sections are written with a Hollywood-weary knowingness that is smart and funny (can we just call that "Gelbartian"?) The worst are his star-struck adulation of the comics of his youth, which brings out the previously unseen hack in this great writer. Regularly fun, but not what it should be.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a gloss-over of the career of a brilliant comedy writer, March 22, 1998
By A Customer
In this quick-read, Larry Gelbart, the man who not only wrote most of TV's MASH, but also penned the funniest Broadway Musical of all time, can't seem to settle on a topic long enough to analyze it. Because of this, even the aforementioned "Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," gets a quick, glossed-over treatment - then it's on to the next topic. Gelbart is usually an adept comedy writer, but much of this book comes off cute and superficial. Not recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, December 22, 2008
This review is from: Laughing Matters (Hardcover)
I was really disappointed in this book. He barely touches on all the projects he's worked on--there's not nearly enough written about ANY of the projects. Instead the book is mostly padding--padding of his random thoughts and philosphies instead of going into any depth about his famous works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ho hum...., January 2, 2014
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It's like eating pastrami on white bread when you wanted rye - or in this case wry. I would have loved to have learned more about the thought process and making of these movies but it was not to be. Pass the mustard please.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Funny Things That Happened In No Particular Order, April 12, 2010
By 
Slokes (Greenwich, CT USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Since I devoted a good deal of my younger life watching "M*A*S*H" the television series like a shower at a sorority house, what were a few more hours in the company of the man who made it possible, Larry Gelbart? Alas, it proved time far less happily spent.

Gelbart, who died last year, published this in 1998. Like other reviews here point out, it's not a book so much as a collection of random essays and jottings about his professional life, beginning in 1944 writing jokes for Danny Thomas (his father shaved Thomas's face backstage before radio shows and got his son his first break.) Gelbart jumps from one show-biz story to another, in three parts dealing alternately with Radio and Television; Films; and Stage. He doesn't stay on any subject too long, and hides deeper thoughts about his experiences behind a battery of wisecracks and puns notable more for their inexhaustibility than humor.

"M*A*S*H" gets more time than most, and to good effect. When it debuted on CBS in 1972, it was up against NBC's "Wonderful World of Disney" and ABC's "The F.B.I", a daunting prospect as he puts it "opposite one program that seemed vaguely un-American not to watch, and another that you somehow felt might be watching you."

Gelbart doesn't share much that is new. If you have seen him on one of "M*A*S*H"'s documentaries, you expect the points he makes about exposing the folly of war, about getting the laugh track out of the O.R., about sending poor Henry Blake into the Sea of Japan. He does make these points, with a slightly self-congratulatory air that persists like nothing else in the rest of the book and an injured tone that seems to store up every slight and rewrite a producer forced him to endure.

Sadder is Gelbart's vocal displeasure at what had happened to comedy and mass media in recent years. Hip as he might have been in the early 1970s (though he was already middle-aged, with nearly 30 years in the business), he was spiritually more at home with Milton Berle and Jack Benny than "Saturday Night Live", which he excoriates for everything from making fun of blind singers to celebrating drugs. Even John Belushi's death doesn't appease Gelbart's need to slag the guy for making a film they worked on together, "Neighbors", such a misery.

Gelbart was a funny man, brilliantly creative and at ease in multiple formats, whether sending up a Roman comedy (he co-wrote the dialogue and story "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum") or film noir ("City Of Angels", a late-career peak). He even wrote a terrific sex comedy, "Blame It On Rio", not mentioned here. Some of his ability pokes through, along with a wry humanity that perhaps enjoyed its deepest expression on screen in his script for "Oh God", which presents the Creator as a low-key mensch. Autobiographical, no doubt.

If only I didn't have to deal with long dialogue excerpts from underwhelming productions (18 years after its half-season on air, he was still pitching that dire non-com "United States") or the happy fingers of an editor smuggling in his two cents at several points in the disjointed tome. Gelbart may have balked from true self-realization, as he suggests several times in "Laughing Matters", but this was not an effective substitute.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gelbart's Funny, October 23, 2009
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I ordered this book upon Larry Gelbart's death, rather late - sorry. But it is a good reprise of his work on M*A*S*H and insightful commentary on other comedians and writers. Light reading but worthwhile.
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Laughing Matters
Laughing Matters by Larry Gelbart (Hardcover - August 31, 1999)
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