BOOK REVIEW: “Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama” by Bob Odenkirk

Comedy Comedy Comedy Dramaa memoir by Bob Odenkirk, star of You better call Saul, is published March 1 by Random House. As its title suggests, the book details Odenkirk growing up in the comedy scene, including writing for Saturday Night Live and featured in HBO’s sketch program Mr. Showbefore moving on to drama on breaking Bad.

Odenkirk grew up in suburban Illinois, one of seven children. His father had a mean side and his mother was quite funny. “She’s always been a big fan of not thinking too much about yourself, or anyone else for that matter,” he wrote. “It’s a staple of good comic thinking and writing – a lack of respect for the world and one’s place in it. Thank you mom.”

The young Odenkirk, raised on Monty Python, performed with various sketch comedy troupes in Chicago, including Second City, and became friends with Robert Smigel. He followed Smigel to New York to write for Saturday Night Live in 1987, when he was in his twenties. Odenkirk praises Smigel’s comedic chops. “When I sat in a room with him, even on the phone when I was still living in Chicago, Robert showed me by example how to find the best part of a comedy idea and make the most of it,” said Odenkirk. .

He shares his work alongside Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Al Franken, Victoria Jackson, Ben Stiller and more SNL cast members.

Towards the end of his four-year career, Odenkirk divided his time between SNL in New York and Second City in Chicago, where he worked with a young comedian named Chris Farley. “Chris was on a mission every night: to crack up the other performers, everyone on stage and the audience would follow,” Odenkirk said.

Odenkirk declared his time on SNL was frustrating and stressful, but still taught him a ton. “I had quietly, excruciatingly learned the components of a good sketch and developed a sense of structure that gave me confidence and led to all my best sketching work to come,” he said. “Lorne [Michaels] had subsidized my sketch-writing training, and now he would see NONE of the benefits. Poor guy. I took my diploma and I ran.

Moving to Los Angeles, Odenkirk worked on Chris Elliott’s short-lived comedy buy yourself a lifewas then in the cast of the also ephemeral Ben Stiller Show, starring Stiller, Andy Dick and Janeane Garofalo, with Judd Apatow producing. He soon met David Cross, and the two hatched Mr. Show on HBO. “Python through an American lens, a little more raw and direct,” is how Odenkirk describes the series, which ran from 1995 to 1998.

The next chapter of the book is titled “Development Heck”, during which Odenkirk details the very many projects, film and television, that failed to take off.

Around page 200, he begins breaking Bad. He notes how the beloved AMC show as it is today didn’t really take off until it started streaming on Netflix around the third season. “I had heard of breaking Bad, and I vaguely remembered the picture on the billboards – a guy in his underwear in the desert? Odenkirk wrote.

In the makeup trailer to prep Saul Goodman, Odenkirk asked star Bryan Cranston a silly question about Walter White’s character.

“You’ve never seen this show, have you?” asked Cranston.

Shooting his first scene as a sleazy lawyer, the cast and crew felt that Odenkirk’s character might stick around for a while.

“Can I get a job on the spin-off?” shouted a crew member.

The career comedic actor has moved on to drama, albeit drama with some good laughs, like You better call Saul.

You better call Saul would have been intimidating if I had thought about it too long,” Odenkirk said, “so I didn’t. I set to work, line by line, scene by scene. Surrender was the only way forward. That first season was something I barely survived at times. He beat me up and left me on the side of the road, out of breath, but I gave him everything I had – and I was surprised at how much of me it took .

Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama is an entertaining read, full of glimpses inside Hollywood, and takes a look at some series that shook up popular culture, told by a lively, funny and dramatic narrator. ■

Comments are closed.