The Comedic Biography Blues ~ Book Review of ‘The Bedwetter’ by Sarah Silverman

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on May 8, 2012 0 Comments

I am done with books written by comedians because on the whole they are seldom funny and more times than not they leave me with a bout of ennui which doesn’t go away for a week.  I wasn’t necessarily expecting a gut busting jolly wholesome read from Sarah Silverman’s ‘The Betwetter,’ but I was expecting something that didn’t feel as if Silverman attempted to write the book with her feet because she was too ‘over it’ to actually take writing her memoir seriously.

You know who I also blame for this book besides Silverman; HarperCollins.  I don’t know why they let ‘The Bedwetter’ be published in the state it is in.  Within its 237 pages maybe sixty is worth reading.  What is so frustrating is that Silverman is a gifted comic and when she does tackle interesting aspects of her life there is poignancy on the pages.  However she negates all of a reader’s good will when she writes about the debate she had with the publisher over her writing the foreword of ‘Bedwetter’ — apparently it is considered bad form to write your own foreword.  I don’t care either way but holy hell; she includes the e-mails debating the situation between the editor and herself as part of the book’s prose. Hear my plea all potential authors of future memoirs — NO MORE INCLUSION OF E-MAILS IN YOUR BOOKS! Kathy Griffin did the same thing with her ‘Official Book Club Selection’ and it is an obvious attempt to stretch the material, however I don’t think I’m alone when I report I find it hard enough to read my own e-mails, let alone someone else’s.  To further elongate her book Silverman also included a “Midword” and an afterword by than God him/herself — a lame attempt at humor accompanied by a lamer attempt at tickling the funny bone. Here is another observation for all potential authors of future memoirs; if something is only funny after smoking pot than it is a good guess that readers (who tend to be sober when opening a book) won’t find it all that humorous.

The chapters where Silverman shines are when she is talking about certain facets of her childhood.  The bedwetting part was enlightening and I couldn’t help but feel proud of Sarah’s younger self for not having a completely devastated self esteem with a problem such as that.  I suppose it helps when you are fast on your feet and a quick thinker. Silverman also talked about the depression she suffered during her early adolescence which I thought was even braver than writing about nocturnal issues with her bladder.  I was moved when she made mention that her stepfather was one of the few people “who didn’t try to fix me.”  One night I sat on his lap in his chair by the woodstove, sobbing.  He just held me quietly and then asked on, ‘What does it feel like?’  It was the first time I was prompted to articulate it.  I thought about it, then said, ‘I feel homesick.’  That still feels like the most accurate description ‘I felt homesick, but I was home.” (page 34)

She dedicates ‘The Bedwetter’ to her stepfather, “In loving memory of John O’Hara,” but doesn’t mention him again; heck, she barely mentions her parents’ divorce.  I understand why someone wouldn’t write down every little tidbit of their lives, but the fact that she rambled on about things such as the stupid stunts her writers did during their time of ‘The Sarah Silverman Program while barely mentioning more interesting areas of her life was frustrating.


I’ll admit that there were some places of  ‘The Bedwetter that were funny (I literally laughed aloud over an appointment she had with a therapist during her depression — very dark humor, but funny).  She shared some philosophy that a friend passed on to her about “making it special” regarding things like marijuana (although I’m going to apply it to red velvet cake).  Thus on one level I did find ‘The Bedwetter’ readable, but not to the point that I would recommend buying it and if you do decide to check it out keep your expectations low.

Otherwise happy reading!

Westerfield © 2012

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