I did it! I departed New York City for an entire week to tan myself and eat fried Oreos at the Jersey shore, during which time I did not so much as pick up a newspaper, open a laptop or respond to any of the approximately zero tweets I received during my absence. Consequently, I have no idea what’s going on in the world right now, unless said goings-on include international debate over the rules of Flip Cup, and/or how deceptive it is to name fries covered in Old Bay “crab fries” and then market them to unsuspecting beach-goers.
In any case, while I did not necessarily keep abreast of current events, I did make good on my promise to spend at least 0.07% of vacation time reading. (In beach trips of yore, this percentage was much closer to, say, 75, but it’s surprisingly difficult to shun your friends (and/or a cold beer) in favor of a poolside lounge chair and a paperback. Mostly because they yell at you.)
So I’ve finished three books since I last wrote, which is a bit of a cheat since I decided last weekend that it made far more sense to to obsessively plan my beach-side dessert roster (Day 1: ice cream, Day 2: funnel cake, and so on) than write up a final book review before leaving. Whatever, now I just look super accomplished.
So I realize I’ve made something of a habit of comedians’ memoirs in these last few months. In fact, were I to rename this blog, my second choice (after “Blog in Which I Eat Food, Watch TV and Also Occasionally Read Books”) would be “Comedians’ Memoirs and Books About Meth,” which, let’s be honest, sums up the majority of this past year.
The Bedwetter, Sarah Silverman’s “memoir” (book of essays? series of ramblings?) is no exception to the rule, which has generally been “memoirs written by funny people are pretty funny.” The excerpted reviews on the book’s cover talk almost universally about how it is, in addition to funny, surprisingly moving, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from my predilection for comedians’ books, it’s that funny people are funny because they’re a little fucked up, and said fuckedupness is usually the result of some childhood trauma, ranging from the mundane (a decade of 80s hair) to the truly tragic (peeing yourself regularly.)
In the book, Silverman touches on a lot her past, including her ascent to fame, some of her more infamous run-ins with controversy and some memoir basics: first sexual encounter, general feelings on Jewishness, photo of coworker’s penis (more on that later). But the best part of the book is her description of her childhood (and preteen) struggle with bed-wetting, which Silverman did nightly, through slumber parties and sleepaway camps, and which she argues prepared her for a no-shame, nothing-to-lose approach to comedy. Which is to say bombing in front of an audience doesn’t compare to a dozen 15-year-old campers discovering out you peed your bunk.
I can’t personally relate to Silverman’s struggle; the closest I ever came to hygiene/bodily fluid-based teasing was the time in fifth grade that a boy found a maxi pad in my backpack and I swore up and down that it was my mother’s. Or the time a fellow 8th grader accused me of wearing the same jeans every day for a week (this was pre-hipster, when such a thing was frowned upon), or the time the boy I had a crush on turned to me on the bus to say loudly and matter-of-factly: “You do know you’re overweight.” None of these can compare with waking up in pee-encrusted sheets, but I do have at least a modicum of familiarity with the hell a group of bitchy tweens can unleash on an outcast among them. So I think it’s great that Silverman somehow transformed her struggle into a successful comedy career (and memoir fodder) since I suspect others who suffered from the same affliction haven’t turned out so well, and may be at this very moment sitting in darkened bedrooms writing up TO KILL lists of their high school nemeses.
Anyway, I know you all didn’t come here to read about my childhood struggles, or even Sarah Silverman’s memoir. You just want to know about the penis. Honestly, it’s not an integral part of the book, or even particularly important (though certainly memorable, as the penis is wearing a hair clip) but I thought it worth mentioning since I stumbled across said photo in the middle of a crowded L train ride, during which time I’m more or less certain that other people noticed the same picture. It may have nothing on bed-wetting, but it’s not exactly unembarrassing to have your fellow train-goers notice you’re casually perusing a book with a black-and-white photo of a limp penis wearing a butterfly clip. …Even on the L train.
After a brief flirtation with it, I ultimately stopped watching The Sarah Silverman Program because, while I like dick, fart and poop jokes, they’re not my favorite style of humor (I’m more a fan of the cynical/sarcastic/hating-people brand). But after finishing The Bedwetter, I did spend a good hour watching various clips of Silverman on YouTube, including The Great Schlep, I’m Fucking Matt Damon and Sell the Vatican, Feed the World. If you like those, you’ll like The Bedwetter. Also if you ever wet the bed, stated publicly that you’d like to adopt a mentally handicapped child with a terminal illness, stabbed Al Franken in the head with a pencil, or coerced your colleague into sprucing up his genitals with a fellow coworker’s hair accessories.
TITLE: The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee
AUTHOR: Sarah Silverman
PAGES: 240 (in paperback)
ALSO WROTE: n/a
SORTA LIKE: Bossypants and I Drink for a Reason
FIRST LINE: “When I first selected myself to write the foreword for my book, I was flattered, and deeply moved.”