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I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This: And Other Things That Strike Me as Funny Paperback – Bargain Price, October 2, 2007


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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Beginning with his 1960 Grammy-winning album, The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart, the comedian's 46-year career has included nightclub standup, TV series (The Bob Newhart Show), animation voices (The Simpsons), feature films (Catch-22, Elf)—and now his first book. At age 77, Newhart is clearly in his anecdotage, with mirthful memories of his successes and failures. Treating the reader almost as a personal friend, Newhart covers everything in this guided tour through his button-down brain, from his 43-year marriage and fear of flying to fatherhood, Vegas, sitcoms, golf and assorted antics with celebrity pals. Aware that digression is the better part of valor, he interrupts the low-key autobiographical flow with amusing asides, and this rambling look at "the absurdist side of life" is just as effective in print as on TV, adding depth and dimension to the familiar image of Newhart as a frustrated, flawed everyman. In the tradition of Max Eastman's Enjoyment of Laughter (1936) and Steve Allen's The Funny Men (1956), he analyzes and compares comedy styles. The hilarity is heightened as he reveals how he created his best satirical sketches. Influenced by H. Allen Smith, Robert Benchley, James Thurber and Max Shulman, Newhart himself has now joined that lofty pantheon. (Sept. 19)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Bob Newhart is a great comedian and a great American." -- David Hyde Pierce --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401309151
  • ASIN: B001Q9E9KG
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (339 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Very funny with Bob reading the book.
Brian B.
I loved watching "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Newhart" so this behind the scenes book about the man and his times was interesting and funny to me.
heynorunning
I would recommend this book to any and everyone who has enjoyed Bob Newhart over the years.
George McAdams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 99 people found the following review helpful By George McAdams VINE VOICE on September 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bob Newhart's book, I SHOULDN'T EVEN BE DOING THIS, is what one would expect from a man of his character: well-written, insightful, humorous, and kind to others. I feel very fortunate that he has been an acquaintance of mine for the past 13 years or so. I say "acquaintance" because we aren't close friends that remember each other at Christmas and on birthdays, but we do e-mail each other from time-to-time. Actually, now that I think about it, he has remembered to snail mail me when I've had an operation or two. However, I digress.

The book is well written, it is brief as compared to most tomes these days; however, it hits on the main points of his life. I have listened to the abridged audio version (I haven't found an unabridged version), and found it to be enjoyable; however, the book has so much more of his antedotes that I would recommend it first to a Newhart fan.

The beginning wasn't always easy and the book describes in detail his evolution from accountant to comedian, sharing comicial moments along the way, and his having the top two albums on the Billboard chart for one year. As Bob describes it, the following year he received a Grammy, a Peabody, and a pink slip (when his first TV show, a variety program, was cancelled). That setback did not deter him as it allowed him to place more emphasis on his stand-up comedy routines.

If you are younger than 45, you probably aren't familiar with his comedy routines, and his book will introduce you to several, notably "The USS Codfish," "Sir. Walter Raleigh," and his "Abe Lincoln PR" routines. If you are familiar with them, he gives you insight into their development. The routines are as fresh today as they were then.
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Charles A. Reap Jr. on January 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Being a long-time Bob Newhart fan I could hardly wait to buy this book. As would be expected, Bob tosses out his genteel type of humor in his telling. It's hard to put down.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By artanis65 on September 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever seen Bob Newhart as a guest on a talk show, you know what a bright and thoughtful guy he is. Unlike many celebrities who go on The Tonight Show to talk about everyday things such as what it's like to be a new parent, their dogs, or how difficult it is to recover from an addiction to diet pills, Newhart realizes that what people want to hear is about all the famous people he's met and his huge fund of hilarious stories. He tells many of those stories here, but he barely mentions his dogs at all.

The book focuses on the interesting people he's met in show business, and includes stories about Dean Martin, Johnny Carson, Don Rickles, George C. Scott, Steve McQueen man, and a host of others. He writes extensively about his early years struggling in Chicago and what he learned from comics like Jack Benny about the use of silence in comedy. I was very interested to read that he sees his comedy as subversive. Unlike more outrageous comedians like Lenny Bruce who presented himself as an outsider looking in to batter down society's ills, Newhart looks and acts just like the rest of us, except he's a lot funnier, and when he pokes fun, it's more effective because he's doing it from the inside. Also, Bob Newhart never became addicted to heroin. Newhart's quietly skewed view of life is what makes him a timeless comedian.

While he presents many of his classic monologues verbatim in the book, it might be worthwhile to also purchase his "Something Like This" CD, because much of the humor is in the delivery. I laughed out loud several times while reading this. For the record, I thought the funniest story in the book involved comedian Dick Martin. (See p. 82)

In the 1960's Frank Sinatra used to say that he wished someone would learn to sing as he did so that he could retire; the same holds true for Bob Newhart, one of the great comedians who also seems like a really nice guy.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
While I don't read show biz biographies--heaven knows theres too many of them and those subjects are already over-idolized--I saw this one. Newhart has always been my favorite "clean" comic. That doesn't mean I don't like, say, Lenny Bruce. But, say, Eddie Murphy and George Carlin overdo the "let's be audacious" thing. Newhart doesn't need to do that.

What's more, I've always wanted to learn a little about what makes a comedian's mind tick. (Though Newhart explains in one chapter that if he sees another book on the science of comedy, he's going to "throw up.")

Actually, Newhart is quite eloquent. His vocabulary impressed me. There is, of course, name dropping, but it doesn't come across that way. He has a chapter, for example, on golf, those with whom he'd golf and witty anecdotes about other golfers, like Dean Martin--and an interesting story about Clark Gabel and Robert Wagner.

Interspersed with the biography are many of his bits. But he adds to them. Like I've always liked his "airline and stormdoor company" bit. He adds a little about the real flight, on a C47 with seats bolted down--when the aircraft did cargo flights the seats were taken out.

He does talk about both of his television shows. While I'm not a TV watcher and don't think I ever saw either of them all the way through, he even explains a little about how each show came about--and how his wife offered the plot of the finale of all of them.

Oh, and the one I "read" was an abridged, CD version. I couldn't imagine reading this, but Newhart read it with his usual, stammering version, part of his bit. (Indeed, he distinguishes at the beginning of the book between stammering, which he does, and stuttering.

Overall, it's a lot of fun.
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