February 2014 | Baltimore Beacon

Page 27

Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style



Billy Crystal still leaves audiences laughing

New memoir Crystal chronicles his rise to comic stardom in his new book, Still Foolin’ ‘Em, Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? The book — which set off a million-dollar bidding war among publishers that was finally won by Henry Holt and Company — is part memoir, part riffs on getting older. Crystal turned 65 last March, and as he doesn’t mind saying, he’s not all that thrilled with it. He gets right into it: “March 14, 2013, my 65th birthday. I got up that morning, padded over to the bath-

room, threw some water on my face, looked in the mirror, and my uncle Al was staring back at me. “My scream brought Janice, my wife of 42 years, running in. I kept yelling….What t h e … h a p p e n e d t o m e ? S o m e h o w, overnight it seemed, I had turned from a hip, cool baby boomer into a Diane Arbus photograph.” Crystal can’t believe not only that he’s getting older, but that it’s happening so fast. He takes some comfort in knowing that so many other boomers are along for the same ride, but “misery loves company” only goes so far. Throughout the book, Crystal tackles the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt.

When I’m 64 The inspiration for the book came from his impending 65th birthday. “All of my really dear friends who are the same age are pretty much saying the same thing, which is basically, ‘Wow. Jeez. This is really happening,” Crystal said. “You go through stages — first day of school, ‘It’s a bar mitzvah,’ ‘a wedding.’ ‘You know who died?’” If you already like Crystal, you’ll appreciate his trademark humor (which includes some raunch, but not enough to put you off if that kind of comedy bothers you). In fact, you should find yourself laughing out loud (I did!), so best to read the book alone or with someone who doesn’t mind being interrupted by some hearty chortling. The book isn’t all a chuckle a minute. Al-


By Carol Sorgen Billy Crystal remembers a show in Baltimore, around 1975, when he opened for the ‘50s revival act Sha Na Na. He was an unknown comic at the time, who happened to look exactly like one of Sha Na Na’s lead singers, Johnny Contardo. “I’m introduced, and I have no billing,” Crystal told an AP reporter in a recent interview. “‘Please welcome another star of our show and an up-and-coming new comic….’ That was the ‘70s. Whenever you heard ‘up-and-coming new comic,’ it was like ‘Ugh.’ “When I hit the stage, they thought I was Johnny playing a guy named Billy Crystal, and they booed, and they hissed and so forth. And I started getting in their face, in a funny way. And I finished my set and I got a standing ovation after I walked off. And Johnny got a T-shirt that he would wear and it said, ‘No, I’m not Billy Crystal.’” It’s been a long time since Billy Crystal has been mistaken for anyone else.

Billy Crystal recently returned to Broadway with his one-man show about his father and childhood, 700 Sundays. He is also starring in a movie called Winter’s Discontent to be released next year.

ternating with his views on the runaway train of aging, Crystal offers up a memoir of his life, from doing comedy and musical acts with his two brothers to entertain his parents and extended family as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island to his years as a stand-up comic, his movie career (he gives the background of the now legendary scene with Meg Ryan in When Harry Met

Sally); his long run as host of the Academy Awards (lauded by another of the show’s long-time hosts, Johnny Carson); and his lifelong devotion to the New York Yankees (for his 60th birthday, Crystal was even allowed an at-bat during a Yankees exhibition game). See BILLY CRYSTAL, page 28




The Baltimore Museum of Industry presents an exhibit of photographs taken by Baltimore Sun photographer A. Aubrey Bodine. The collection of 70 prints highlights different eras in Maryland industry, from oystermen to fire-eating clowns. The exhibit closes Thursday, Feb. 6. The museum is located at 1415 Key Hwy. Admission is $12 for adults and $9 for those 62 and older. For more information, visit www.thebmi.org.

Cars, boats, furniture, antiques, tools, appliances Everything and anything is sold on

Radio Flea Market Heard every Sunday, 7-8:00 a.m. on 680 WCBM

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