Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rickles' Book

I listened to Bob Newhart's autobiography I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This a few months ago, and I became interested in reading Don's, because the two of them are such good friends, but so different. Also, I had the opportunity to operate the Mr. Potato Head robot at Disneyworld for a couple hours back in June. The robot is voiced by Rickles, but a lot of the comic timing is left up to the operator, which made me feel a little bit like I was living in the mind of Don Rickles, which was eerie, to say the least, and left me with a lot of questions about his creative process.

Anyway, this book is a little light on creative process, although it does make clear that most of his work is developed improvisationally, which says something about how brave he is -- when you spend most of your act insulting the audience, and you have no script, that's pretty brave! The book wasn't as introspective as Steve Martin's Born Standing Up, but who would expect Don Rickles to be as introspective as Steve Martin? Most of the book is little anecdotes about other stars (mostly Frank Sinatra). Reading it feels a lot like you are sitting down with Rickles and his friends, and hearing them tell stories about the old days.

Don makes clear that the key to his success was persistence, and that's a message I always find reassuring.

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