Review: Maybe We'll Have You Back by Fred Stoller

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Title: Maybe We'll Have You Back
Author: Fred Stoller
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Series: N/A
Pages: 280
Published: April 2013
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 4/5

Fred Stoller has played the annoying schnook in just about every sitcom you've seen on TV--Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Scrubs, Hannah Montana, My Name Is Earl--and was even a staff writer for Seinfeld, but he's never found a solid gig. When it comes to Hollywood, it's a case of always the bridesmaid and never the bride, except in his case he's always the snarky waiter, the mopey cousin, or Man #2.

This hilarious and bittersweet rags-to-rags story of the hardest-working guy in showbiz follows Fred, who started his career as a stand-up comic, from set to set as he tries to find a permanent home for his oddball character. With candor, Fred shares stories of his great adventures pounding the Hollywood pavement, including a humiliating encounter with Billy Crystal, a disastrous one-night stand with Kathy Griffin, and plenty of awkward run-ins at craft service tables. And he always shares his ups and downs with his skeptical yet loving mother waiting by the phone in Brooklyn.

Everyone can relate to searching for a dream job or their next big break, and will root for Fred as he weaves his way through the cutthroat world of Tinseltown.

Reviewed by Danielle.

I almost never pick up biographies, but my husband loves comedians’. I saw this one on edelweiss and read the summary to see if it was something I might want to recommend to him. The preview chapter was super readable and really funny. In a depressing, "50-years-old and never made it", kind of way. So I took down the name and moved on.

A week later, I kept coming back to the thought of Matt LeBlanc at the height of his fame telling a guest star, “Man, I’ve seen you everywhere,” or the fact that dressing like a loser has earned Stoller $33.00 in wardrobe fees as costumers just look at him off the street and go, “perfect”. That’s funny stuff. So I requested the ARC for myself, despite it being outside my usual genre. And you know what? Despite ruining my childhood with the knowledge that Harry Anderson is an asshole, I really loved it.

Stoller relives his early home life with an overbearing Jewish mother and a functionally-mute father, breaking into the stand-up business, (“You’re so depressed, how are you going to make people laugh?”,) moving to LA, acting, switching to writing, switching back to acting. voice-over work, and on to his webseries and own movie. Each time in his life is told fondly, (OK, maybe not Seinfeld,) with jokes and a lot of name dropping. He comes off as happy as he can about where his life is and how his career has gone, which makes me happy, though I hope he does get that permanent spot on a sitcom soon. I’m rooting for him.

It does get a bit self-deprecating with the, “I never found a home!” theme, (dude, I hate to tell you this but 200 episodes of Handy Manny is so a home and more of one than some sitcom stars get, ) and towards the end it does start to devolve into a list of sitcoms with an anecdote or two for each. Still, Stoller is charming and those anecdotes are pretty funny, which kept the story from lapsing into a total pity-party. Though if anyone deserves to throw one, it may be the guy who didn’t get the part of a “Fred Stoller” type in an ad.

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