The New York Times
Rubber Balls and Liquorby Gilbert Gottfried
Nobody ever reads this part of the book. Somebody at the publishing house explained to me that it's actually called the book flap. That sounded dirty, so I giggled for three hours. But it says in my contract that I have to write something over here in this tiny space, even though I don't think anyone will notice. Some people might open up to the middle of the book
Nobody ever reads this part of the book. Somebody at the publishing house explained to me that it's actually called the book flap. That sounded dirty, so I giggled for three hours. But it says in my contract that I have to write something over here in this tiny space, even though I don't think anyone will notice. Some people might open up to the middle of the book and start flipping through pages, but nobody will read this part. In fact, I'll bet anything that you're not reading this part now. And if it turns out that you are . . . well, the guy in the bookstore is probably staring at you, saying, "Stop reading that book!" I guess there's a reason bookstores are going out of business, left and right. Cheap fucks like you think it's okay to stand in the aisles and read to your heart's content. So for the sake of bookstores everywhere, buy this fucking book. I myself don't care. I only care about the poor working man. Oh, and the sanctity of the written word. I care about that, too. And in my case, those written words, of course, include fuck, dick, and pussy.
The New York Times
“Gottfried goes for the jugular in his first humor book…outrageous…guffaw-inducing jokes on almost every page.” Publishers Weekly
“His deadpan accounts of [his] professional low points are some of the funniest parts of the book…In the grand tradition of self-deprecating comedy, he plays them, often brilliantly, for laughs.” The New York Times Book Review
“This is definitely the loudest book I have ever read. It changed my life. After reading it I decided to go through transgender surgery.” Bob Saget
“Gilbert is the funniest man alive. He is the comic genius of our generation. This book proves he is the Picasso of the cubist-dick joke.” Penn Jillette
“More than a national treasure, he's a secret weapon. If we had had Gilbert Gottfried in World War II, Hitler would have given up in 1942.” Stephen King on Gilbert Gottfried
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Rubber Balls and Liquor
By Gilbert Gottfried
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 Gilbert Gottfried
All rights reserved.
Story of My Life
I've done some research. I'm no slouch. Okay, strike that. Maybe I am a slouch. Certainly, my posture could be a bit better. But before I started writing I did go to the library and ask around. Here's what I found out: the best books of all time usually start with a classic opening scene. Also, the classic opening scene is supposed to give readers the full flavor of the book, and to introduce the main character in an exciting, compelling, memorable way.
So that's what I'm going for here.
First, an observation: people seem to assume that comics get a lot of pussy. This may, in fact, be true. Specifically, people assume that comics get a lot of stripper pussy. This, too, might very well be the case — but what the hell do I know?
Now, I suppose the reason for this type of thinking is that comics and strippers tend to work the same types of fleabag clubs, at all hours of the night, and that we keep seeing each other backstage, where the strippers are probably walking around on their knees, giving blow jobs, while us comics regale them with jokes and impressions and honey-scented semen.
Unfortunately, this has not been my experience, although I once managed to get a stripper's phone number. At the time, I counted this as a career highlight, and it's still up there on my list of all-time accomplishments. I wish I could remember what I said to this woman, what line I used, but the entire transaction has been blocked from my memory. It was always such a torturous thing for me, talking to women, trying to get into their pants.
If there is a hell, and if that's where I'm going, there'll probably be an endless gag reel being played on some big-screen television of me trying to talk to women. It would play all the time. It would start out funny, and then it would quickly become frightening — because, really, it was a whole new trauma, each time out. For all my charm and girth and apparent good looks, I was a disaster at this sort of thing. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I'd get shot down. Once in a while, the woman would look back at me through a fog of smoke and alcohol and say something encouraging like, "Wait, I'm sorry, were you talking to me?"
And yet on this one occasion, with this one stripper, the stars aligned and the gods smiled and everything seemed to work as well as it could have worked. Better, even. It's possible the stripper gave me her number by mistake, but I didn't care. All I cared about was that she answered the phone when I called the next day like she was happy to hear from me, which I took as a good sign.
I said, "It's me, Gilbert?"
She said, "Do I know you?"
I said, "Yes, we met last night at the club. You gave me your number. You told me to call."
She said, "And?"
I said, "And this is me, calling."
You'd think I would have prepared something to say, a piece of witty banter to reinforce the fact that I was a brilliant young comedian, fluent in the art of effortless conversation, but I wasn't smart enough to think things through in just this way.
Somehow, she agreed to meet with me. We arranged the time and place. I was terrifically excited, because I'd already seen this woman naked, which was like half the battle. In my head it meant that our getting together and having sex was basically a sure thing, and even if it didn't work out I could go home afterward and jerk off to what I remembered of her tight stripper body.
All was right in my little corner of the world.
Now, all these years later, I wish I could remember the stripper's name. Candy, I think. Or maybe it was Gum.
Somehow, I ended up taking her back to my apartment. I thought, This is going well. We started making out, and the whole time all I could think was, Oh my God! I'm making out with a stripper!
Over on her side of the couch, all she could think was, Oh my God! I'm making out with a Jew! I'm so excited! This man killed my Lord!
Somehow, her clothes started coming off. She was wearing this very sexy stripper-type underwear. I was half-expecting a pair of day-of-the-week granny panties, reminding us that it was Tuesday, but there I was in the middle of a Victoria's Secret catalogue.
Somehow, my clothes started coming off and the stripper didn't run from the apartment in horror. This, too, I took as a good sign. I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that the stripper was impressed with my physical gifts, but at least she wasn't put off. This was certainly something. Not much, but something. By this point, the young lady was committed, I guess you could say. Or, quite possibly, nearsighted.
Next thing I knew, we were in my bedroom, about to do it doggy-style. These days, when I do it doggy-style with my wife, it's a little different. She plays dead and I beg. But back then, in the full flower and vigor of my youth, this hot, agreeable stripper was on all fours, and it was possible to stand back from the scene and squint and convince myself that she was the one doing the begging. I couldn't believe my luck. My head was ready to explode. Nothing like this had ever happened to me. It was, without question, the single most thrilling moment of my life. It's a wonder I didn't start barking.
And then it was over. Just like that. My stripper friend lifted her butt toward me in a final enticing display, and I congratulated myself yet again for my great good fortune. Then I made my final approach and if I confess here that I managed to hold off for a full second before ejaculating I'd be exaggerating. If you must know, I don't think I made it in past the tip, just an inch or so — which was a shame, really, because I had a whole other inch or so to go in the physical gifts department. I just slipped my cock into her tight little stripper pussy and shot my wad in no time at all. Maybe I managed a meager half-thrust. I was in such a state of bliss and ecstasy I couldn't control myself.
As soon as I came, my stripper friend looked back at me over her naked shoulder with an expression that seemed to be equal parts disgust, disappointment and disregard. Her face was just one big dis after another. She said, "You've got to be kidding me, Gilbert. Did you just come?"
(Careful readers will note here that I've chosen the more socially acceptable spelling of the word come, as opposed to the more vulgar, more hardcore cum. If the subject cums up later on in these pages I'll probably do the same, but I can't make any promises. After all, I want this book to be accessible to the widest possible audience. With any luck, it'll be something parents can read to their children, for generations.)
I couldn't think how to answer. I was a little too out of breath and a little too deep into the throes of my short-lived ecstasy to think much of anything, so I just slipped my limp dick from this lovely stripper pussy and slinked off to the bathroom to bask in my own shame. And, to curse myself for not thinking of Ned Beatty in that great ass-raping scene from Deliverance. It could have saved me, that scene. If I'd just thought to picture Ned Beatty on all fours in front of me, instead of this hot, young, tight-bodied stripper, I might have lasted a full thrust.
(Or, as an alternative, I could have held on a little bit longer if I was looking at some naked pictures of myself.)
When I returned to the bedroom, I was still walking on air. I approached my new lover, who was still on all fours, only now it was because she was looking for one of her contact lenses. I leaned toward her and whispered hotly into her ear, "Was it as good for you as it was for me?"
It was at this point she gave me "the look" — the look that said, Yes, I'm a totally hot piece of stripper ass, for now, but in less than a year they'll find my dead body, which by that point will look like it belongs to an eighty-year-old woman, having died from a drug overdose or from being stabbed in the throat by my biker boyfriend. So, you see, I can easily kill you right now and not give it a thought.
Well, we've all been on the receiving end of that look ... so I backed off and let my lover be. If there's one thing I know about women, it's when to let them be. God knows, I've had an awful lot of practice.
I called the stripper later to see if she'd like to get together again, but there was a silence on the phone that seemed to suggest she was back to giving me that "look." And so, in a blind panic, I hung up the phone and went about my business.
Okay, so there's my big, sock-o opening. Right out of the gate, you get the full flavor of me and my life so far. It's all right here, in this neat little anecdote. But apparently they want me to write a little bit more, so I'll keep going. Where I'm going, I've got no idea. I'm just making this stuff up as I go along, which people tell me is how most authors go about writing their books, so I'm not too worried. No kidding, they just make this stuff up, or pull it from thin air, or they stick their fingers down their throats and something comes up, and somehow or other everything comes together and starts to look and feel and smell like a book, which is close enough in my book.
(And all this time, I just thought this stuff was written down somewhere.)
Another thing I found out on that ill-advised trip to the library is that a lot of these books start at the beginning. A very good place to start, if you believe Julie Andrews. The writer picks a point in time, and shares a few autobiographical anecdotes, and then things really start moving, so I figure I'll give that a try. (Hey, at this point, I'm up for anything.) I'll reach back a couple generations and start with my grandmother. I called her Bubbie. In Brooklyn, it wasn't the most original name for a grandmother, but in my defense I had no idea that it was Yiddish for grandmother. I just liked the name. I liked my Bubbie, too. She used to visit us every week, and before she came over she always baked some pastries for us. She was well known for her mandelbrot, which is like Jewish biscotti. (If you happen to be a ninety-seven-year-old Jew, and someone is reading this book to you at the home, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.)
As soon as I started ripping open all these Jewish delicacies, my Bubbie would go to work on her English. For some reason, she decided that I would be her helper. She was determined to speak perfect English. All week long, she'd collect newspaper articles and remember the one or two words she didn't understand. Or she'd hear something on television that made no sense to her, and make a mental note of it. Then, as I stuffed my face, she would tell me the word she didn't understand and ask me the meaning.
In addition to her pastries, my Bubbie also came prepared with at least one joke she'd heard that week — very often with a word or two missing, because she didn't understand it. The one joke I still remember is the only joke she ever told that was even close to off-color. (Probably that's why I remember it.) The joke turned on the Yiddish expression tsuris, which is pronounced tsoo-ris, and basically means "troubles" or "difficulties." The joke went something like this: An old Jewish man is sitting on a train, shaking his head back and forth and crying. Every once in a while, he puts his face in his hands and says, "Tsuris! Oy, tsuris! Such tsuris!" An Irish man walks by and hears the old man's cries and says, "If you have such a sore ass, why don't you go to a doctor?"
My Bubbie lived to 104, which is probably a little too old to consider a ripe old age, because she had already started to turn. I still say she died young. When I was little, she used to take me by the hand to the neighborhood butcher. She would order brains. This, too, wasn't so original. Lots of Eastern European Jews eat brains, it turns out, but I don't want to scare off my Gentile readers, so let me state for the record that not all Jews eat brains. We do, however, all drink the blood of Christian babies.
Have I mentioned that we were Jewish? Does that come across? A lot of people, they see my act, and the fact that I'm Jewish never enters their minds, which takes me to a true story. On second thought, the story is really more of an aside than a stand-alone anecdote. It's an important distinction, and it's probably in all of our best interests to consider it here, before this book gets away from us. Really, it's more of a space filler than an attempt to advance the story or keep my confused readers turning the pages. As a side note — specifically, as a side note to my aside, which I guess puts us way, way off to the side for the moment — I should mention that most of the stories I plan to share in this book are true, except for the ones that aren't. Even the asides. This one happens to be true. It was 1980. I was a young comic, about to be discovered. I went to a casting call for the new season of Saturday Night Live. It was the year the show went from being good and relevant and talked about to when it started to suck. It was also the year that my career went from sucking to being good and relevant, but only for a while. I might write a bit more about Saturday Night Live later on, if I need to fill a few pages, but for now I'll tell just enough to set up this story.
(Remember, this is meant to be an aside, and I've read enough book reviews to know that if an aside takes too long to tell it's not really an aside. Then it's more of an amiddle, and it gets in the way of the story. That's about the last thing I want to do, get in the way of my story, which is basically how I've tried to live my life as well. I prefer to stay out of the way, off to the side, where I'm less likely to offend.)
Anyway, the show back then was produced by a woman named Jean Doumanian, who happened to be a great friend of Woody Allen. For those of you who aren't familiar with Jean Doumanian's work, she was the type of person who would watch a Marx Brothers movie and say, "Well, Margaret Dumont is good, but why do they need those strange gentlemen running around her?"
It just so happened that Woody Allen himself decided to come down to an NBC screening room one afternoon, to watch the auditions with his good friend Jean Doumanian. Maybe his adopted children were busy that day, with playdates of their own, so he needed to find something to do. He had his reasons, I'm sure, and it just so happened that I was one of the comedians he just so happened to catch on tape that afternoon. It also just so happened that I was doomed to overuse the phrase it just so happened, simply because of this strange confluence of events.
Let's review: there was me, at the Saturday Night Live audition. There was Jean Doumanian. And then there was every working comic in New York. All in the same room, trying to impress the hell out of each other. And then, a couple days later, there was Woody Allen and Jean Doumanian and another few influential people crammed into a darkened screening room, reviewing our auditions on videotape, so of course it just so happened that we all came together in just this way.
Woody sat in the back, off to the side, all by himself. All afternoon, he sat and sat. For a comic genius, he could be a pretty stone-faced guy, and here I'm told it's like he was posing for the fifth spot on Mount Rushmore. Comic after comic, audition after audition, this guy didn't say a word. He didn't laugh. He didn't smile. Or so I was told. And then it was my turn. I popped up on screen and went into my act. I did a few voices. Somewhere in the room, I'm almost sure of it, somebody laughed. But not Woody. He didn't laugh. He didn't smile. He just crinkled up his face in an unpleasant way, as if he had just come into close proximity with some turned cheese, and leaned toward no one in particular and gestured toward me and said, "Is he a Navajo Indian?"
How do I know this is a true story, if I wasn't even there? One word: you can't make this stuff up. (Yes, I know, that's actually six words, but I was never a big fan of counting.) I also know this because one of the no ones in particular seated next to Woody Allen told me about it afterward, and for a brief moment I thought about changing my name to something a little more Native American–sounding, like Dances With No Rhythm or Sleeps With His Hands On His Balls.
Truth was, I was about as Navajo as Shelley Fabares. I was Jewish, through and through, although in our house that didn't mean a whole lot. We never went to synagogue. I never had a Bar Mitzvah. We didn't keep kosher or observe the Sabbath. In fact, I'm not so sure I would have known what the Sabbath looked like if it passed me on the street, so how could I observe it? And yet we were Jewish. This alone wasn't so unusual. Where I was born, in Coney Island, it wasn't the most Jewish neighborhood. In other parts of Brooklyn, though, and all over New York, we were a regular plague. Okay, so maybe I'm overstating. We Jews tend to do that, I've heard. Let's just say there were a great many of us, and we were all rather pleased with ourselves. But that's where it ended for me. I enjoyed a nice sour pickle from time to time, or maybe a Hebrew National hot dog, but that was about it.
Excerpted from Rubber Balls and Liquor by Gilbert Gottfried. Copyright © 2011 Gilbert Gottfried. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
GILBERT GOTTFRIED is a household name, having used his irritating voice and irreverent sense of humor to build an enormous following for his sold-out stand-up performances, his critically ignored motion picture career, his hardly remembered turn as a Saturday Night Live cast member, and his bestselling DVD and CD releases. Gottfried has appeared in more than one hundred movies and television shows, and has been a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Howard Stern Show. He has been named by Stern's listeners as one of their all-time favorite guests. He lives in New York, where he once killed a man for saying he didn't like yogurt.
GILBERT GOTTFRIED is a household name, having used his irritating voice and irreverent sense of humor to build an enormous following for his sold-out stand-up performances, his critically ignored motion picture career, and his hardly remembered turn as a Saturday Night Live cast member. He lives in New York, where he once killed a man for saying he didn't like yogurt.
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I read this book in just four hours and I didn't skip any parts. That is the biggest compliment I can give any book! Most memoirs are recollections of a person's history and Gilbert Gottfried remembers a lot of dirty jokes. Just to warn you, there are a lot of funny jokes and stories in this book and they do contain a few naughty words. I have always thought Gottfried is funny and I was hoping that this book would shine a light on his personal history, but like all comedians, it seems a joke is how they deal with their life and to distance themselves. There are quite a bit of personal asides and some laugh out loud moments in the book as well as some truly touching stories like his near death experience. I really enjoyed the few behind the scene looks at show business and like any up and coming star, how he was ripped off by people he hired to help him. I also haven't read a celebrity memoir where the writing actually sounds like the author and I could just imagine him delivering each line. I should have opted for the audio version of the book since it would have saved me the trouble of doing Gilbert's voice in my head. As weird as that sounds, I dare you to try to read this book without scrunching your face and whining just like him. There is a nice running joke through out the book dealing with the actual writing of the book that perfectly make fun of the whole author business.
Reading Rubber Balls and Liquor by Gilbert Gottfried is like visiting with an old friend. He jokes, you laugh and cry at his bumpy life where Gottfried simply wants to make people laugh. Even if it is the most inappropriate time, which most in likely is the most appropriate time. Gilbert Gottfried who has appeared in over 100 movies and television shows is a household name, or at least his voice is a household annoyance, the high pitch Jewish guy. Besides his obsession on self stimulations, you learn that his career has been an adventure of luck, hard work, and simply showing up. Sprinkled among the text are old school vaudeville jokes that will make you smirk and say "no he didn't". This book will also take you on a journey in the celebrity and semi-celebrity circuit where artist jell together to create their craft. A book whose title is stolen from a second grade's joke, Rubber Balls and Liquor by Gilbert Gottfried is a fun adventure into the wacky world of comedy.