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Hardcover The Funniest One in the Room: The Lives and Legends of Del Close Book

ISBN: 1556527128

ISBN13: 9781556527128

The Funniest One in the Room: The Lives and Legends of Del Close

Nichols and May. John Belushi. Bill Murray. Chris Farley. Tina Fey. Mike Myers. Stephen Colbert. For nearly a half century, Del Close cocreator of the Harold, director for the Second City, San... This description may be from another edition of this product.


Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

*Best Available: (missing dust jacket)

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Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Del Close -- Secret Genius of Comedy

I had never heard of Del Close and am now unsure how I found out about this book, but I read it twice back to back. Close was not only a co-founder of the legendary Chicago comedy improv troupe Second City, and therefore responsible for mentoring everyone from John Belushi to -- well, dozens of famous comedians -- but he also collected science fiction, acted in B-movies (and even A-movies), was a professional fire eater, co-wrote comic books (DC's hit horror anthology WASTELAND), practiced Wicca, met L. Ron Hubbard, and worked for Tex Ritter. You see what I mean. This book is the surprise hit of my year and I recommend it unreservedly.

Know Del Better and Understand the Mad Genius

As an improv student and performer for over a decade, this book by the coauthor of Truth in Comedy sheds light on what made Del the Guru of improvisational comedy. It also provides glimpses into what training with Del was like. In spite of his personal demons, his commitment to the craft of improvisation as worthy of theatre performance fathered the modern era of comedic greats. Read this book for a compelling portrait of this less than well known comedy professor.

Thorough (but not flawless) examination of a genius

I first heard about Del Close a good ten years ago when I read that the casts of all of the good years of SNL (see: the first 5 years and the late '80s/early '90s) were overrun by his students. Since then, most of my favorite comedians today have turned out to be students of Del's (including Bob Odenkirk, the Upright Citizens Brigade, Stephen Colbert, Conan O'Brien's writing staff during the glory years of Late Night from 1995-2000). I wanted to know more about the man who is described as the most influential figure in comedy in the past fifty years (is it fifty? I could have looked this up beforehand. I think it's either fifty or thirty. Either way, very influential). And this book tells me everything I could ever want to know. It's a bit slow in the beginning (but necessary to get a feel for Del's upbringing), but the rest of it is extremely interesting. I loved the little stories included every so often to highlight scenes from Del's life, it really gave you a true feel for his personality. That's the best thing I can say about this book, after reading it I feel as though I sort of knew Del Close, even if we were more acquaintances than real friends. That said, why just four stars instead of all five? Maybe I'm nitpicking, but one thing really annoyed me in how the book was written and that was the baseless speculation that repeatedly appeared. Like if Del got a one-off role on some TV show (like Don Adams' "Get Smart") that ended up being cancelled shortly after his appearance, the author would say something along the lines of "he would have surely had become a recurring character if the show had continued." This only happens around five times over the course of the book, but while it wasn't all that recurring in a 350-page book, it was enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Other than that, though, I really enjoyed it.

Great biography that also follows the history of US Improv

I loved this book! While I knew much about the last twenty years of Del's life, its great to see the roads he took in the beginning, to see him as a young actor and improviser, learning the lessons that would later inform his directing and teaching. It's got to be hard to write a biography of Del, who was never concerned with sticking to the facts when addressing his own life. Johnson does a great job of presenting events both from Del's recitations and from the memories of others. The end result is a biography that doesn't just illuminate Del Close, but follows the gestation of improvisation, as its own art form, in the United States through the end of Del's life. Johnson clearly did his research, interviewing countless people who knew Del at various points in his life across the country and doing a great job capturing their perceptions and putting them down on paper. Improvisation is spontaneous enough that the history of the art is almost an oral tradition. It's wonderful to have all of this in writing!
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