True Story: A Novel

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True Story is Maher's debut novel about the wild and crazy life of the stand-up comedian — a bawdy, rowdy tell-all report from the front line.

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True Story: A Novel

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True Story is Maher's debut novel about the wild and crazy life of the stand-up comedian — a bawdy, rowdy tell-all report from the front line.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Anyone considering a career in stand-up comedy should read this book, then consider something else, because all this great stuff is over."
— Jerry Seinfeld

"One of the funniest novels since John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces."
Library Journal

"Crisp, funny, bitter and wise....Bill Maher really knows stand-up comedy."
— Steve Allen

"This is the novel I would have written about stand-up comedy if I was a sick egghead like Bill Maher."
— Roseanne

Mr. Maher has written a novel with many funny passages of a kind of sandpaper humor . . . So one enjoys True Storyfor its bawdy energy, its flamethrower wit...
The New York Times
Ray Sawhill
...delivers an impressively maudlin yet bitter wallop; it should be used as a shillelagh with which to prod oversensitive creative writing students. The creepy competitiveness, the behind-the-scenes lore and the raunchiness all start to work, supplying a texture that's rank and seductive.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743291354
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Edition description: ABR
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 700,540
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

... t, never afraid to admit ignorance, Buck prized the knowledge about women, and everything else, that Shit passed on to him.

But especially about women. Like the time, a Friday afternoon it was, when Buck phoned Shit to see about pursuing the avocation in which they had become expert, the assassination of a day. Shit said he was going to the Guggenheim with a girl, and invited Buck; Buck declined, not wanting to be a third wheel, and not being hungry for German food. Shit explained that the Guggenheim was a museum and that the girl — although a former flame — was now just a friend. He urged Buck to go, dangling the prospect that the girl might be someone Buck would like and then claim for his own.

Buck did like the girl. At the museum, he essayed to be his charmingest, funniest, and especially — since this was a museum — most knowledgeable self. He strained to recall every stray fact he'd once crammed into his head for the Modern Art final, and what he couldn't remember, he made up. He waged a tireless campaign to impress Shit's old flame with his vast knowledge of the subject at hand. And he actually thought it was working. Yeah, she really seems interested, he thought — and quite appreciative that so astute a guide had come along.

Of course, as a guide was exactly how she saw Buck: a sexless, verbose, eggheaded, might-as-well-be-wearing-a-silly-uniform factotum. Buck thought he was getting to her, until in a single moment it became crushingly, blindingly plain what a fool he was.

Near the end of the day, the woman of Buck's soon-to-be-dashed dreams turned to Shit and teasingly asked: "Why don't you tell us somethingabout one of the paintings?"

Shit paused and looked deeply into her eyes. "I don't know anything about them," he said. "I just know none of them are as beautiful as you."

To say that she melted would be to set an impossible standard for applications of extreme heat the world over. But to say that she wanted Shit so bad at that moment that she would have been happy to use Buck as a cot would be just another ridiculous exaggeration.

As for Buck, he just wanted to crawl inside the windmill of an old Dutch painting.

Days later, after Shit and his rekindled flame had spent some quality time remembering where they used to like to touch each other, Shit summed it all up for Buck: "Women want you to be interested, not interesting."

Yeah, that was Shit, all right — a Renaissance man, something out of a different age, out of a time when wit and class and sophistication were the qualities civilized people admired and to which they aspired.

Boy, was he in the wrong business now!

Unfortunately for Shit, it was no time to be a throwback to that gentler age when humorist wasn't a dirty word in comedy; in 1979, humorist was a dirty word, the way liberal was becoming a dirty word in politics. Shit worked in the tradition of the Noël Cowards, the Bob Hopes, the Jack Bennys — comedy giants perhaps, but giants who would never have gotten past audition night had they started in 1979. The revolutions that each American generation stages in its choice of popular music are more noticeable but no less real than those in comedy, and Shit's style was essentially the comedic version of the cabaret singers The Club put up from time to time, to break up the comedy — the thirtyish blondes in billowy gowns who sang medleys of songs lionizing New York or inspirational I-can-climb-the-mountain-find-my-lucky-star-reach-the-impossible-dream show tunes of the sort that homosexuals seemed to enjoy so much.

But this was the eighties, man. Who was looking for the next Lainie Kazan? For that matter, who was looking for Lainie Kazan? The current vogue in music was punk-rockers, very few of whom included in their evening's menu a charming, pre-scripted minute of chat under a tinkling piano, unless you count "Eat my shit, assholes" as patter.

At The Club, Shit had seniority going for him, and he had the city of New York to play to, where there was still some residual sophisticated bonhomie. But even New York was becoming a town more concerned with subway fare than savoir faire, and in such an age, Noël Coward was just an old English douche bag with no props and no dick jokes. When Shit told the audience that so-and-so was "such a conservative, his idea of a great musical is Across the World in Eighty Days..."

Well, there just weren't enough of the kind of people around anymore who knew how funny it was.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, as your delightful master of ceremonies just told you, it's true, I was on a soap opera — I used to play Dr. Matthew Michaels on Lives of Our World. And I'll tell you how I got the job. I was only supposed to work one day — one line. I was supposed to go into the hospital room of the star of the show and say, "That eye looks fine. You can go home tomorrow." But this was live TV. Live. I leaned over the bed and said, "My God, that eye looks awful — I'll be in to see you tomorrow." I kept that shit up for two years.

I recently got my big break when I was cast in the all-WHITE version of Porgy and Bess — ah, a couple of fans of the musical theater here tonight — with songs like "Bess, You ARE My Woman Now" and "It ISN'T Necessarily So."

I snagged the part of Porgy. Next week they cut my legs off at the knees — which is great, 'cause I always wished my dick would touch the ground.

Rex Harrison is doing a car commercial — have you seen that one? Professor Henry Higgins, the greatest linguistic mind in English history, waxing poetic about a Chrysler. But since Rex Harrison is the only celebrity I can imitate — because I can't sing, either — here is Mr. Harrison, as Professor Henry Higgins, performing the song that the commercial really wanted him to do:

Why can't a woman be more like a car?
One car in a million may stall a bit
Now and then one may test your mettle
Occasionally you'll see one that you'd call a piece of shit
But mostly they're a wonderful hunk of metal!

If I forgot to change your oil, would you bellow?
If I didn't tune you up, would you fuss?
Would you despise me if your anti-freeze turned yellow?
Why can't a woman — be more like a bus!

You folks have been...well, an audience. If you want to see me again, on the tenth of September, on the Johnny Carson show — write him.

Copyright © 1999 by BIll Maher

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Table of Contents



The Act You're Not Good Enough to See

More Green, Asshole

It's a Living Hell, but It's a Living

Show Me the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, and Somewhere There's a Guy Who's Tired of Fucking Her

Good Evening, Ladies and Geniuses

Love Is When You Don't Feel Shitty After You Come

The Work Isn't Bad — but the Hour!

No Set, No Hamburger

Loyalty Is a One-way Street

The Nice-Ass Act of 1980

You Better Be a Winner in This Business, Because if You're Not, It's Shit

It's Easy to Do Great, It's Hard to Be Great

When Opportunity Knocks, All Some People Do Is Complain About the Noise

People: The Problem That Won't Go Away

I Dreamed I Went to See Mort Sahl, and He Was Doing Dog-and-Cat Material

When You Can't Light the Joint, You're Stoned Enough

The Power of Negative Thinking

The Sweet Stench of Success

Epilogue: The Future Isn't What It Used to Be

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    Wheres the stiry

    I cant see any story

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012


    0 stars but it made me put one. You should put why Bane wanted to destroy Shatterstar.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    To post below

    The story accedentaly got deleted. BUT There will be a new series called The Chronicles of Bane coming soon at Bane result one. Please spread the word.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2003

    Life of a comedian

    True Story, takes you inside the life of a struggling stand up comedian. It's not all glamour and glory, just like everything else in life you have to work hard to get where you are. This is a great book for anyone with a dream; you quickly come to realize it's not what you expect, but you persevere and maybe some day you get a shot at the big time. Just as the heroes in this book though, sometimes opportunity does not come knocking at your door, and thats life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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