Openly Bob

Bob Smith, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (272p) ISBN 978-0-688-15120-1
Most books by stand-up comedians consist of shtick, but the relentlessly quippy Smith--the first openly gay comic to appear on the Tonight Show--successfully crosses over into the comic essay. His autobiographical tales are engagingly tart: bringing his lover home to his family (""There are times when having an uncommunicative, repressed family can be a real benefit""); working as a caterer in his early 20s (""New York criminals treat waiters better than the so-called `high society'""); trying to keep his dignity while auditioning in Hollywood (""The defining characteristic of being a big queen isn't effeminacy... [it's] flamboyant enthusiasm""); performing in the gay summer playground of Provincetown, Mass. (he and fellow members of the Funny Gay Males trio devastatingly dish a drag imitator of Carol Channing). The collection can seem scattershot, but Smith redeems himself with his take on relationships (""Know Thy Selfishness"") or his description of a therapist who delighted in hearing his problems (""Schadenfreudian""). And the comic's final essay, about the funeral of his father, an alcoholic ex-state trooper who drove his family nuts but also accepted his gay son's sexual identity, is at once hilarious and touching. QPB alternate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-380-73200-5
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