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Editorial Reviews

Dick Cavett's new collection of essays, drawn from his recent weekly column in The New York Times, does exactly what you expect, exactly as well as you expect it to. After 50 years in the talk show business, he has many great stories to tell and a sizable but casual wit with which to tell them. As a selection of his columns, this book collects not only the many historic moments in television that Cavett had a hand in, but also an array of amusing anecdotes from his childhood, and also his general opinions on contemporary politics and pop culture.

The essays are not arranged chronologically, and the ever nimble Cavett jumps from scene to scene with the ease of both the person who has been there, and the person who is accustomed to discussing it. Cavett reveals hilarious bits of his childhood, from an obsession with illegal firecrackers to the military precision with which he studied to become a magician. He weighs in on recent news headlines as a staunch liberal, including his thoughts about Sarah Palin, among other political figures. Of course, his behind-the-scenes look at writing material for Groucho Marx and Johnny Carson is fascinating, and his tales of celebrity horror are hilariously personal without getting too gossipy.

To have Cavett himself narrating the book is immediately and unmistakably a real treat. This experience feels like having Sunday dinner with your grandfather, except your grandfather is a deeply literate and highly animated character with a vast stockpile of friends in high places. Of particular delight are his terrifyingly good impersonations of Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne. Cavett tells of listening to Nixon strategize about how best to ruin him, the time a fitness expert died on stage in the middle of a taping, and his effort to contain an extended feud between Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer that famously boiled over during a live show. Spanning five decades and essentially covering highlights of the entire history of commercial television programming, there isn't a tedious moment in the whole book and you'll definitely want to pass these stories along. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

For years, Dick Cavett played host to the nation’s most famous personalities on his late-night talk show. In this humorous and evocative book, we get to hear Cavett's best tales, as he recounts great moments with the legendary entertainers who crossed his path and offers his own trenchant commentary on contemporary American culture and politics.

Pull up a chair and listen to Cavett's stories about one-upping Bette Davis, testifying on behalf of John Lennon, confronting Richard Nixon, scheming with John Updike, befriending William F. Buckley, and palling around with Groucho Marx. Sprinkled in are tales of his childhood in Nebraska in the 1940s and 1950s, where he honed his sense of comic timing and his love of magic.

Cavett is also a wry cultural observer, looking at America today and pointing out the foibles that we so often fail to notice about ourselves. And don't even get him started on politicians.

A generation of Americans ended their evenings in Dick Cavett's company. Talk Show is a way to welcome him back.

©2010 Richard A. Cavett (P)2010 Macmillan Audio

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Witty, wry and wonderfully entertaining...

As a long time fan of Dick Cavett, his memoir "Talk Show" took me down memory lane of some of my literary heroes, television greats, political silly people and the golden era of live television. Mr. Cavett's intelligent insights and observations of those familiar faces and public figures enlighten his readers/listeners with his humor and his understanding.
I especially enjoyed his analysis of the Imus firing situation, perhaps because I agree with it. I wonder if Mr. Cavett's respect of the I-man remains after his "defection" to Fox Speak...more's the pity.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Pretend he's not being pretentious, & you'll enjoy

I rarely watched Cavett's show (he always seemed TOO full of himself), and yet I've seen brief clips of many of the shows I missed and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Maybe that's the answer...Cavett in small doses is manageable. At least I found MOST of these columns to be either interesting, humorous (the ones about Richard Nixon, George Bush) or downright poignant (the one about Paul Newman brought tears). I DID NOT enjoy learning he was not only friends with - but GOOD FRIENDS with - the irksome William F. Buckley. And Cavett seems to get far too much enjoyment remembering tales of his childhood/teen vandalism, minor though it may have been.

His writing skills are exceptional, and he's a pleasant narrator

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Danvers, MA, United States
  • 11-12-12

Exceeded My Expectations - Considerably

Would you consider the audio edition of Talk Show to be better than the print version?

Yes. I have a preference for books read by the author.

What other book might you compare Talk Show to and why?

Since this is one of the very few memoirs I've read, it's hard to compare, although I did listen to Michael Caines most recent and Cavett's compared more than favorably.

What does Dick Cavett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Obviously, his voice (tone, modulation, inflection, etc.)

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The John Wayne segments. A pair that is hard to imagine

Any additional comments?

I bought the audio thinking it would be a straight forward memoir. At first I was disappointed at it being a reading of his blogs. However, after I got into the pattern, I was very pleased. As to Mr Cavett himself, I found him to be more agreeable and empathic than I thought. That said is absolute intolerance of folks addicted to food and alcohol was a bit disconcerting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating...

I used to watch Dick's talk show & liked it since he didn't just stick to film stars, but brilliant people like Bill Buckley. This is a real find-the fact that Cavett narrates the book & very well too, enhances the experience. As other reviewers have said, it is like he is in the room with you. I was enthralled through all of it. I would almost bet a fiver that you will not be bored. Bravo!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Laura
  • Jersey City, NJ, United States
  • 03-05-12

A delightful time spent!

What made the experience of listening to Talk Show the most enjoyable?

By far the best part of this adventure was hearing it told in Mr. Cavett's own voice, infused with his characteristic wit and intelligence. This reminded me of both how much of an influence he was on my life over the years, and how much I miss that now.<br/>The book is a treasure-trove of backstage glimpses, wry observations on life, political commentary, and some very memorable jokes.<br/>And, thank you Dick Cavett, for coming to the rescue of the English language!!

Any additional comments?

As soon as the audiotape ended, I raced over to my computer to see if his autobiography had been recorded by him here. Disappointed to not find it! What do you say, Audible?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Exceptional.

This book was exceptionally well written and performed-Mr. Cavette has had a fascinating career and shared so much of it in this book. I always thought he was intelligent but I have learned he is brilliant with a wonderful and wry sense of humor. I felt he gave me a gift with this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Worthen
  • marblehead, MA, United States
  • 09-04-11

Razor sharp as always

How I miss Dick Cavett. Wonderful stories of course but it is his constant insight of people, places and history so well laced with humor and perspective that I miss most of all. Wish we had him back on TV then it would be the one thing that I would watch...now it is a wasteland.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Love it!

I just love this audiobook. I always enjoyed Dick Cavett.....it's refreshing to listen to someone so intelligent and articulate. I've missed his TV show and was thrilled when I learned of this book. He kept me company on a long car trip. It felt like he was in the passenger seat telling me stories. Since I've returned home, I've played several for my husband and some friends, and I enjoy them the second time through just as much as the first. He's brilliant!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Dick Cavett Remembers

I’ve was never a fan of Dick Cavett. I tried and tried to watch his talk show. He got terrific guests. But all that unrestrained wit and unbearable, never ending cleverness was too distracting for words. I couldn’t figure out who he was trying to impress – the celebrities, his audience, the crew, himself? Maybe if he had an English accent it would have been easier to take. But Dick Cavett the writer is another matter. He’s got great stories to tell and he tells them with the same wit and style I found so tedious on television. A few of the anecdotes are dated and boring but that’s what the fast forward button is for. Most of his tales are truly wonderful and he reads them in a warm, relaxed conversational manner. Its almost as if he were sitting next to me in the car. He’s a lot more likable that way.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Jack
  • Marina Del Rey, CA, United States
  • 12-24-12

Dick Cavett Talks Trash!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Already have because I learned a lot of trivia and love it

What did you like best about this story?

How witty it was

What does Dick Cavett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His delivery as a speaker/writer

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Sure if time would permit but I didn't. Four sittings.

Any additional comments?

I thought the book was a true insight as to the esoteric private stories behind the celebrity peeps. It's so witty that I couldn't wait to pick up from where I started from after taking a break. It's a lot better than "People Magazine" and doesn't mimic "The Inquirer" but more of an intellectual entertainment learning experience without pictures. It's certainly a generational book about people my children, who are in their forties, most probably never heard of or understood. I would give it a "Five" based on content and originality!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful