The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee
By Sarah Silverman
240 pages. Harper Collins. $25.99
published April 20, 2010
On the front flap of comedienne Sarah Silverman's humorous memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, there is a warning from the publisher. It is a silly three question multiple answer quiz asking, in various forms, what limits can be pushed before you are offended. Though an original way to announce what is to come if you read the book, the quiz is quite an accurate barometer. If you can't make it through the short questionnaire without a red face, then you should not open to the first page. However, if you do decide to read the book, make sure you do so in places where it is appropriate to audibly laugh and gasp... often.
Silverman keeps the pace going as she jumps from anecdote to anecdote. This memoir is not set in chronological order, but rather by topic. Often ones which you wouldn't talk about in front of your grandmother. That is unless you are Silverman herself, who learned at a very young age that saying shocking statements in inappropriate places gave her much desired attention. She is still continuing in that vein of attempts for laughs today.
Though Silverman's book has a funny title, not all of her stories are light or ridiculous. Though she can turn most things into a joke, she does also share some of her vulnerable and insecure side. An admitted bedwetter until well into her teens, Silverman credits the humiliation that she experienced because of this to her success at stand up comedy. "But maybe my lack of stage fright was the upside of years of bedwetting. Maybe that daily shame had ground away at my psyche... I understood that bombing on stage could never be as humiliating," she states on page 74, while explaining her lack of fear at jumping into life of public comedy. She also shares her battle with depression, and the fact that she felt like an outsider as a young Jewish girl in her home state of New Hampshire. It's what propelled her to New York, and ultimately her career in show business.
Silverman divulges some behind the scenes from her short stint at Saturday Night Live, and does her fair share of name dropping, but isn't that what we are hoping for when we read the memoirs of famous people? What we are also sure to get, and no disappointment here, is a platform for the writer to voice their opinion on people and situations that have been critical of them. Silverman does this not only with situations that made it to the news but also down through the line to middle school bullies. At a certain point this insecurity detracts from the book as a whole, but Silverman redeems herself by keeping those diatribes short and changing the subject often.
With fair warning that the crudeness of this book may shock you, it will also make you laugh quite out loud and will keep you up at night wanting to read just a few more pages. Sarah Silverman has not become one of America's top comedians for nothing and she proves that with her writing. She is surprisingly articulate with an impressively wise perspective. Besides, for those of us who grew up in her era, it's hard not to feel somewhat of a kinship for another kid who owned (and wore) her rainbow Mork-from-Ork suspenders with pride; even if her style choice wasn't as big of a hit with her ten year old peers as it was with this reviewer's two year old ones.
Rating: Three Stars
Those of you who would like to win my copy, leave a comment below and I will put you in the drawing. Submission for winning will end at 11:59 p.m. on May 25. A winner will be chosen by random.org on Wednesday, May 26, 2010.