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From Barnes & NobleOur Review
Who is Linda Richman? She's a New Yorker, a survivor, and a lecturer at the fancy Canyon Ranch health spa. But we know her better as the inspiration behind "Coffee Talk," the brilliant Saturday Night Live sketch based on Richman's exuberant personality. "I'm all fahrklempt!" "I'm kvelling!" "Like buttah!" Richman has made us laugh for years through the impersonation by Mike Myers; now she teaches us how to find hilarity for ourselves. In I'd Rather Laugh: How to Be Happy Even When Life Has Other Plans for You, Richman speaks in her own voice about what she knows best: holding on to laughter, even in tragic years.
Richman's own life has been weighted by unimaginable sorrows. Her father died when she was eight, leaving Richman in the slack hands of a bedridden mother. When Richman grew up, she married a gambling addict who squandered her assets. And when Richman finally escaped that marriage, her 29-year-old son was killed in a car accident. "I'm supposed to be a basket case by now," Richman admits. "I'm supposed to be totally defeated and deflated by circumstance and fate."
Instead, Richman found ways to rise up. She learned to bring humor to intolerable situations -- and by doing so, she learned to survive. "I am an expert in surviving pain with a smile on your face," asserts Richman. "I was put here on this earth to be a teacher...but one who teaches from the heart." Talking plainly from her rough-trained heart, Richman teaches us to bear pain with humor and hope. She teaches us to give up our tragedies.
It's not easy to relinquish misery, as Richman well knows. But since histrionic displays often hurt those we love, we all must bear up gracefully. Richman learned this the hard way: When she had to cope with her son's death, Richman found that her own agony was killing other family members. "I was making my daughter suffer, and I decided I had to stop it at once," Richman explains. So she turned to her daughter. "You think you're sad?" Richman asked. "When your brother died he owed me a lot of money -- and now I'll never see a dime!" Her daughter laughed a little. And by cracking a joke, Richman got her daughter to smile, to snuffle out a giggle, and to take hope. "There are times," Richman shrugs, "when making a joke is the difference between life and death."
In I'd Rather Laugh, Richman hands out stories galore, along with hints for surviving tough times. She gives straight-up advice about therapy, about friends with issues, and about finding meaning in the difficulties you face. But throughout, she urges her readers to make fun a priority. "No matter how sad you are today," she promises, "happiness and laughter and even joy are still distinct possibilities for tomorrow...you and I have the ability to get all that." Richman's warm, genuine talk -- the real "Coffee Talk" -- helps us laugh and keep on laughing.