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Fred Stoller returns to the Kindle Single format once again with winning results. Stoller, a character-actor and occasional stand-up is a guy you’ve seen and heard in so many films and in nearly every sitcom across the last 20 years. He’s the guy that gets the call-up but not the call-back. He dealt with that in his excellent memoir. And before that was published an extract of that manuscript was released as a standalone; Kindle Single. Stoller has worked as a writer for TV shows too, so he’s a natural now that he turns the pen on himself.
The story here – in what is a essentially a non-fiction novella – is the HBO Young Comedians Special, specifically the 1989 edition. Stoller was one of six picked for the showcase. You’ve heard of Rob Schneider and David Spade. They were part of the crew too. Chances are you haven’t heard of the others – and/or haven’t heard from them again. Stoller picked up this story for examination because he heard Schneider say that this was where he got his big break; it’s true for Spade too. Shortly after they were on SNL as writers and performers and from there to movies and sitcoms, returning to stand-up too. Stoller wondered why this was their big break and not his. And also what had happened to the others? They were a tight crew of six – two of them made it, four of them didn’t.
He interviews comics and family members of comedians, explains the setting, sets the scene. Then of course he paints in the bits of his own story. It’s a fantastic mini-memoir – with some literary detective work and a compelling cause too; ruminating on humour and the nature of success.
Stoller’s proved himself in this format before and he succeeds again. I look forward to the next instalment from him. Meanwhile I’m lining this up for a re-read. Essential for comedy fans.