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Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the '80s Changed Hollywood Forever Paperback – May 26, 2020
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“The definitive account of the golden age of American comedy—if it were any more addictive to read, these wild and crazy guys would probably have tried to snort it in the ’70s. Riveting.”—David Ehrlich, senior film critic, IndieWire
“Highly readable . . . pithy and propulsive . . . De Semlyen racks up the good anecdotes and behind-the-scenes tidbits.”—The Times (UK), “The Best Books So Far of 2019”
“Highly entertaining and interesting.”—Houston Press
“There is no shortage of excellent critical writing about the US comedy scene in the 80s, and Nick de Semlyen’s Wild and Crazy Guys is a terrific contribution to the genre.”—The Guardian
“The irresistible Wild and Crazy Guys charts the roller-coaster ride of the groundbreaking comedy stars of the ’70s and ’80s, giving a fascinating look at the helium highs and crushing lows surrounding some of your favorite funny films. I couldn’t put it down. Although that may have been the glue.”—Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Baby Driver
“An authoritative look at how the creators of Saturday Night Live and the films that followed . . . changed the face of comedy.”—Leonard Maltin
“A master storyteller, de Semlyen weaves extensive research and interviews into an entertaining narrative [that] will resonate long after the last chapter. . . . Beautifully written and absorbing, this is a valuable addition to the chronicles of American comedic cinema.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Fans of Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, and their wild-and-crazy ilk will find pleasure here.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy—they’re all here like you’ve never seen them before (with no shortage of drugs, competitiveness, and egos).Fast-paced and addictive, Wild and Crazy Guys is the Easy Riders, Raging Bulls of the wild and crazy ‘80s Hollywood comedy scene.”—Chris Nashawaty, author of Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story
“It's amazing that anybody survived making comedies in the impulsive, excessive, drug-fueled, rage-filled period in the decade following the explosive arrival of Saturday Night Live. And some didn't. But, aided by the sharp recollections of those who did, Nick de Semlyen gives that more-is-more period of comedy what it desperately needs: Clarity and perspective. Wild and Crazy Guys maps the era and its swaggering players beautifully.”—Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back
About the Author
- Publisher : Crown; Reprint edition (May 26, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1984826662
- ISBN-13 : 978-1984826664
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.19 x 0.77 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #146,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Robin Williams and Billy Crystal were only mentioned a couple of times. But all in all, an entertaining and fun read.
I can't remember the last time I read a nonfiction book all in one day. I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised I practically devoured this one as I love behind the scenes pop culture stuff like this and anything 1980s related automatically peaks my interest. I couldn't believe how many things I learned from the book considering how much of my head is already full with random celebrity/tv-film industry tidbits. (I'm the person you want on your trivia team because I always bring my A game for the entertainment portions.) So basically this is a good read for those who have a casual interest in the topic and also the die-hard pop culture fans.
The book follows the careers of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Steve Martin with much of the focus taking place during the 1980s which was when most of the careers were at their highest point. There's a ton of good behind the scenes info of the movies and tv shows they were a part of as well as projects that each person was close to working on but in the end a deal wasn't made. It was particularly interesting to see just how many films originally had John Belushi as the first choice but because of his death ended up going to another actor. And while much has been written about classic films such as Animal House and Caddyshack, this book manages to provide details not just about hits but also the pretty crappy ones most of us haven't thought about in ages like Neighbors and Nothing but Trouble. The author also manages to provide a good look into the personalities of each person featured as well as what others have to say about what it was like working with them.
I really can't say enough good things about this book as it was a terrific read. If the subject matter interests you, for sure pick this one up!
Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
Bill Murray, in particular, has always been a favorite of mine. On pages 31-32 of the hardbound copy that I read, Bill describes the effect of fame. "When you get famous, something weird happens to you. It' just a mechanical thing. When everyone starts kissing your butt, you just walk bent over." This observation may have wider application than just the entertainment business.
The author examines the movie careers of Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and Rick Moranis. Rick Moranis didn't get his picture on the cover of the book, but he did some very funny work and he's described as a very decent human being (I can't remember anyone else in the book being so described).
Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Blues Brothers, and the various Vacation movies starring Chevy Chase all get fair treatment. The one that surprised me the most was Groundhog Day, which apparently had a lot of behind the scenes drama that, to my mind, didn't affect what to me was a great movie.
There's plenty of background on Hollywood movie making with budgets, "suits", writers and sometimes the lack of writers, and the vision of movies. If these topics interest you, I think you'll find the book rewarding.
If I have a criticism and I didn't deduct for this, it's that the book doesn't say much about Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman. Gilda unfortunately passed too soon and I'm not sure that the others had significant movie careers. I still think of Gilda and her tag line "--never mind."
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. If you're a fan of the early days of SNL or Hollywood movie making in general, I highly recommend the book.
Top reviews from other countries
I hope Nicks’ next book is one of fiction because he has a talent for crafting detail into the shortest of sentences that richly dress the set he frames in your mind.
As a huge fan of this cinema period (I grew up on most of these comedies and they became my touchstones), I found this to be a great read. Taking a warts and all approach (though most still come across as likeable people), this explores the friendships and fueds, the arrogance and the drug taking and the incredible self belief that kept them going. My one gripe is how much ground is covered - de Semlyen deals with the behind the scenes of most films in the question but doesn’t go into enough depth for me, though if he’d tried the “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” approach (the book is compared to it in the blurb), it would have meant a volume two or three times thicker. That issue aside, if you loved the time period, the films or the comedians in question, I’d say this was an essential read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.