Friday, March 21, 2014
Book Review: "The Todd Glass Situation" by Todd Glass with Jonathan Grotenstein
I've been a huge fan of Todd Glass for years, ever since I saw him appear on Star Search in the 1980s. I watched his appearances on televised stand-up comedy shows, attended a few of his shows at the DC Improv over the years, and rooted for him on one of the early seasons of Last Comic Standing. If I were funnier, I'd want to be just like him.
After reading his memoir, The Todd Glass Situation: A Bunch of Lies about My Personal Life and a Bunch of True Stories about My 30-Year Career in Stand-Up Comedy, not only do I still find him hysterically sarcastic, but I'm touched by his heart as well. This is an account of his growing up in Pennsylvania, struggling with school and trying to find a way still to fit in, which he did by making people laugh. It's the story of how his comedy career startedthe ups and downs, the advice he was given from fellow comedians, the lessons he's learned along the way, and how comedy has changed through the years. As a huge fan of stand-up comedy (particularly in the 1980s and 1990s), I found this really fascinating.
But this book is also about Glass' coming to terms with being gay, something he only acknowledged recently. Although Glass had always inherently known he was gay, he was truly affected by the attitudes of those around him toward gay peoplethose who called people "fag" or weird things "gay." He also didn't want audiences or his friends to treat him differently. The book recounts his trying to reconcile his "situation" with being the regular funny guy, trying to find a relationship while simultaneously hiding his true self from those around him, and how doing so for so long really shaped his life. (Glass finally chose to speak out after a rise in suicides of young gay people.)
This book is uproariously funny (I could almost hear Glass narrating it as I read it) and truly heartfelt. I definitely identified with his struggles since we're only a few years apart, and so much of what he had to say in the book I have either said to people or felt myself. I had to be careful not to laugh out loud (I was on a plane while reading this) and I also tried to keep my emotions in check. This is a terrific look at the world of a stand-up comedian and the simultaneous struggle for self-acceptance.
I'm glad Todd Glass was finally willing to share his story. Hopefully what he has to say will not only amuse others, it will perhaps make them think differently as well. That's the way the world changes.