Sunday, July 26, 2009

Review: When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win

Summary: Stand-up comic and comedy writer Carol Leifer faced a critical dilemma and had only two options: either continue sharing her greatest childhood memory (seeing the Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1966) or lie about her age. But the choice soon became clear: “I see now that when you deny your age, you deny yourself, and when you lie about your age, you become your inauthentic twin. But most important, when you lie about your age, they win. (And of course by ‘they,’ I mean the terrorists).” Now, in this uproarious book, Leifer reveals all—her age, her outlook, her life philosophy—no holds barred.

• On technology: “I am overwhelmed by anything that involves a cord.”

• On motherhood: “Never put your baby’s length on a birth announcement. It’s a baby, not a marlin.”
• On collagen injections: “Your lips are not meant to be flotation devices for your face in case it capsizes.”

• On tattoos: “If you plan on having your lover’s name tattooed on your arm, always leave room before it for a possible ‘I Hate’ down the road.”
• On etiquette: “Never refer to a woman as ‘ma’am,’ even if she’s ninety years old. Nobody likes it.”

After years of stand-up and a wave of successful television shows, Carol Leifer finally (and hilariously) puts it all down on paper–the wise thoughts, witty stories, and wonderfully way-out observations guaranteed to have you nodding in agreement and laughing out loud in sheer delight. -- Villard

by Carol Leifer is not a book that I would normally read; but when I read all the praise surrounding this book, I thought I'd give it a try. Ellen Degeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, Chris Rock, Larry David, and Bill Maher all have blurbs on the back cover of this book. At the very least, I figured this book would have to be somewhat funny, right?

I have to admit that I didn't absolutely love this book -- it was just alright for me. The book was made up of more than 25 short essays on a variety of topics including plastic surgery, finding love, becoming a mother, and adopting pets. I was expecting to find a lot of humor in these essays (you know more like entertaining insights into regular life), but I found this book to mainly be Ms. Leifer's opinions (and strong ones at that) about her life.

Prior to this novel, I wasn't that familiar with Ms. Leifer as a stand-up comic or as a television show writer; and I'm thinking that might have been one of the reasons I didn't appreciate this book as much as some readers will. Of course, I am a fan of some of the shows she has worked on including Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live (and I won't swear that I haven't seen her do a little stand-up on some show), but I think not really "knowing" her might have made a difference in my ability to really care about her opinions.

I don't want to make it sound like I didn't find anything of value in this book because that's definitely not true. There were some really funny things in this book. And even though I have almost nothing in common with Ms. Leifer, I did find myself agreeing with her on some issues. We might not have arrived at these opinions the same way, so I found it interesting to learn the reasons why she has her beliefs. And even on those topics where we disagree, I still thought I could learn something by getting another point of view.

Probably the stories that I enjoyed the most were at the beginning of the book. I thought the sections where Ms. Leifer talked about her father were extremely touching because it was obvious she loved him deeply. She also managed to tell a few stories about him that were quite funny. Another section I enjoyed was when Ms. Leifer discussed aging and plastic surgery. I thought she made a lot of valid points for just accepting who we are and what we have!

I recommend WHEN YOU LIE ABOUT YOUR AGE, THE TERRORISTS WIN if you enjoy memoirs that also include some humor. In addition, I think readers who enjoy short essays about life would find this book to be entertaining.

Thanks to Anna from FSB Associates for sending me a copy of this book.


Anonymous said...

I guess it's like standup comedy itself - some of the bits are funny and some are just - meh. And sometimes, you just have to be in the right mood! Good review!!!

bermudaonion said...

With blurbs from Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld, I would have expected this to be hilarious too. I've found that I don't always get current humor and I usually blame my age.

Beth F said...

I have often found that it is better to listen to comedians than to read them. For example, I love George Carlin, but I have not enjoyed his books. But when I got an audio of one of his books, I changed my mind. I might look for this one on audio.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I find that I don't read a lot of books of essays and I tend to steer clear of comedy since I find too much of it to be hit or miss.

kalea_kane said...

Great review. I really thought that this would be a hysterical book, but I think that comedy is so much about timing and you just can't always get that in a book by a comedian. I do love her though. She was one of my faves back in the day.

Serena said...

interesting book...not sure this is for me.