Now more than ever, it seems as though celebrities are expanding their empire in ways unrelated to on-camera action. Fragrances, home furniture, clothing lines and liquors are all becoming very popular enterprises. However, one trend has been around for quite some time and shows no sign of going anywhere – the celebrity autobiography. With books from Miley Cyrus and Sarah Palin, anybody can write a book these days, author or not. Comedian Eugene Pack decided to capitalize on this with his show, “Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words.” A group of other comedians and performers got together to read excerpts from the most ridiculous celebrity autobiographies, and the simple recipe was a smash success. In a limited engagement at San Francisco’s SketchFest, Intermission got to see what TIME magazine is calling “the funniest docu-theater stunt of the year.”
Getting cozy at Cobb’s Comedy Club, we eagerly anticipated the start of the show, because after the city traffic, we were in the mood to laugh. We certainly were not disappointed. “Saturday Night Live” superstar Rachel Dratch (Debbie Downer!) and the legendary Fred Willard were standouts, with the grandfatherly Willard hysterically reading an excerpt from “The Man With The Gold” by Mr. T. We also heard about Ivanna Trump’s child-raising skills and, hilariously, Tiger Woods’ techniques for “putting.” Another highlight was watching comedienne Maria Bamford read from a collection of Suzanne Somers’ anthology of poems, including one that was actually titled, “The Quiet Loneliness of Being Alone.”
The real star power of the night came with Jason Segel, who was filling in for Neil Patrick Harris, who had to cancel due to prior commitments. Segel read an awkward sex scene from David Cassidy’s memoirs, and was drunkenly endearing. He mumbled on stage and couldn’t control his own laughter, which made the scenario even more funny, like we were being let in on an inside joke.
A moment that Intermission particularly enjoyed was the joint reading from “Burnin Up!: On Tour With the Jonas Brothers.” As indicated, many of the readings were from stars who had faded even during our parents’ generation. While they were certainly hysterical, it wasn’t as easy to identify with the absurdity of Burt Reynolds as it was with Frankie Jonas (“The Bonus Jonas!”). Despite the generational gaps, “Celebrity Autobiography” is a must-see. Besides getting to see respected celebrities and comedians perform in an intimate, live environment, you are guaranteed to be laughing the entire time.