Not often do I find a book that grabs me, pulls me in, and entertains me for the entire length I read. It is even more rare that I find a book that I will find hard to put down and read straight through. I’ll Be Here All Week by Ward Anderson, a look into the world of stand up comedy, is one of those books – funny, entertaining, honest, dark, and fun. Check out my review after the jump.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit I’m a fan of Ward Anderson, who co-hosts a daily Monday through Friday Sirius XM show with Allison Dore. “The Ward and Al Show” is broadcast out of Toronto on channel 167. It’s entertainment talk that I first encountered through out editor-in-chief here at Biff Bam Pop!, Andy Burns, who sometimes appears on the program. In a world where real talk radio is sometimes a rare beast, “The Ward and Al Show” is a breath of fresh air.
I was surprised to find that not only was Ward Anderson a fine talk radio host and broadcaster, but he was also a stand-up comedian and, believe it or not, a novelist. His debut novel, I’ll Be Here All Week, from Kensington Books. Merging two of his worlds, the book is described by one of my favorite actresses, Aisha Tyler, as “Ward Anderson flays open the perceived rock star glamour of stand-up comedy to show us how it really is.”
Decades, centuries ago, maybe in a past life even, I used to do interviews, sometimes with moderate celebrities. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than to learn that someone you like is an asshole, or worse than that, just not talented. Conversely, it’s a joy to find that someone you like is cool, and better than that, talented. With this book, Ward Anderson is solidly in the latter category.
Some books are propelled by story, some by character, and some merely by the subject matter. Ward Anderson’s I’ll Be Here All Week hits all three of those fairly well, but its real strength is its voice. Some authors take decades to perfect voice, but Anderson mesmerizes the reader from the first paragraphs with the narrative voice of his protagonist. This is a storytelling home run as voice is half the battle.
You know what one of the best parts of I’ll Be Here All Week is? It’s funny, it’s a book set in a stand-up comedy world, and it’s funny. So many, too many, tales of the career are sad tragic stories. I actually laughed out loud more than a few times reading, hell, much more than that. This is a fun read, thanks to Anderson’s mastery of voice. He knows comedy, he knows radio, he knows the road, and he knows the business. Add in his sharp clever wit, and you’ve got a fun terrific read.
I’ll Be Here All Week is the story of stand up comedian Michael Spencer, Spense to his friends (and readers), and how meeting Sam, a younger woman from Canada who works at The Gap, impacts his life. When Spense meets Sam it’s like a personal tour, a love letter of sorts, of Canada from an ugly American’s point of view. And I say that with love, as an ugly American myself.
Now anyone who knows me knows I’m a French Fry connoisseur, so when French fries became part if the courtship of Spense and Sam I was all in. However, not being Canadian nor having ever been to Canada, poutine is still foreign to me, and honestly sounds a bit ick. Anderson made me want to try poutine. That’s how good a wordsmith he is.
For this poor soul who’s worked in radio, and knows stand up comedians, Spense’s inner running commentary is one of the most fun parts of the book. One has to wonder how just autobiographical I’ll Be Here All Week is, or isn’t, based on what we know about Ward Anderson in ‘real life,’ but either way it’s still cool. This is a great book, I loved it. Yep, I like this book a lot, despite the fact I’m from and live in New Jersey.