Tone: First person and entertaining-some profanity.
Take Away: The life of a celebrity isn’t all glitz and glamor.
How I discovered this title: Chris Kattan appeared on a local Seattle news segment. I had no idea he went to high school in this area!
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ll admit I’m fascinated by behind-the-scene biographies and this book doesn’t disappoint. During his eight years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, Chris Kattan worked with hot celebrities and he drops a LOT of names. (Tom Cruise, Will Ferrel, Cameron Diaz, and many, many others-seriously he included a list at the end of the book). However, there is more to Chris Kattan’s story than the famous people he’s met along the way.
When he appeared on a local Seattle television news broadcast, I thought-wow-another SNL celebrity bio. However, he answered the interviewers questions thoughtfully and seemed sincerely interested sharing his story.
I’ve had this beautiful life, and I’ve felt and experienced so many amazing things. Every day now I’m able to wake up and see that. I’m a much stronger person than I used to be. I don’t bullshit anymore; I don’t spend all my time looking back over my shoulder. I don’t have expectations, so I’m rarely disappointed. I feel grateful. I feel blessed. Thank you for reading my story.
He and co-writer Travis Thrasher cleverly alternate sections between Chris’s childhood and his time in the spotlight. Along with a conversational, first person presentation, this technique not only kept me reading, (You know it’s SO easy to skip those background years!) but deepened my understanding of Kattan’s grasp of comedy and how he developed his characters.
But in your first years on that stage, there is a freedom you’re encouraged to use, and it allows you to discover a kind of brilliance you never knew you had that unexpectedly appears in your performance. Eventually, you learn to recognize what you’re gifted with. What makes you different than anybody else. What can make you not just funny and or even hilarious but f****** hilarious. When you recognize and then learn how to control it, hopefully you’ll be able to use it like a tool whenever you need it. And when you discover how to be confident and playful with it, your gift can become many things, including a new comedic persona that might eventually make you a star.
As a writer, I found his approach to developing characters and working on sketches interesting. There is so much more work that goes into developing those sometimes silly bits that flit across our screens. We may laugh, criticize, or imitate the sketches, but they don’t appear out of thin air.
A lot of the time, because of the performer’s passion and committed belief in an idea, what started as “a failure” would eventually become one of the most successful characters that performer ever created. There are so many details that go into a person, and getting those details right can be what makes the character suddenly become real.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys SNL, wants to work in comedy, or to simply gain insight into how a fellow fallible human navigated the perks and pitfalls of celebrity.
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