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Audie Award Finalist, Humor, 2014
Kevin Pollak rose through the comedy club ranks at the feet of Don Rickles and Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson, and George Carlin. Named one of Comedy Central’s Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time, he’s a killer impressionist - Falk, Shatner, Walken, Nicholson - a versatile actor with one of the most respected filmographies around, and an Internet pioneer. He’s done it all, and now he’s ready to spill the beans.
Ballsy, hilarious, and revealing, How I Slept My Way to the Middle winningly combines never-before-heard stories featuring A-list entertainers with fan favorites and Kevin’s own thoughts about how he made it. He turned down his first invitation to do stand-up on The Tonight Show because he knew that he’d make a bigger splash if he sat on the couch next to Johnny. That huge risk - which paid off in spades - was just the beginning. Find out how he brought John Belushi to his knees, tortured Paul Reiser (twice), bamboozled Larry King, stole Alan Arkin’s soul, almost killed Warren Beatty, and sucked face with Robert De Niro’s girlfriend. Now a new media entrepreneur, Kevin is laughing proof that if you follow your gut and believe in yourself, you can do anything you want - except have a rational conversation with Rip Torn, who’s an evil, paranoid $#!%.
To begin this review I’ll admit to being on the frivolous side when it comes to entertainment. Even in a serious book/movie I prefer large portions of humor without too much dark violence. Pollak’s initial movie career consisted of serious films that while amazing, aren’t generally my thing (A Few Good Men, for example).
To make matters worse, I really don’t care for impressionists. I appreciate the skill and talent that goes into that genre of humor, but impressionists just don’t make me laugh. Later in his career Pollak did some lighter movies with more of the “clever banter” type humor I enjoy, such as “The Whole Nine Yards”. Bottom line is that though I have nothing against him, I’ve never considered myself a Pollak fan….until this book.
I honestly don’t even remember why I bought this audiobook, but when I ran out of other books and found this on my iPod I figured I might as well give it a try. I am SO glad I did! Not only did I love this book, but after listening to Pollak telling the story of his life, I have become a huge fan. The stories about Bruce Willis, De Niro, Nicholson, Jerry Lewis, Tom Cruise, Naomi Campbell, Rip Torn and others were entrancing, which is saying a lot since I’m also not much for keeping up on the latest celebrity gossip. I just got home from the grocery store and caught myself literally laughing out loud as I listened to this book while shopping. It was honestly that funny.
Pollak makes no apologies for his fairly large ego, but he’s also surprisingly likeable and almost humble at times. Don’t ask me how he can be an egotistically humble man, but he manages to do so in a way that makes you wish you had the chance to get to know him in person. And, once you realize all the cool things he’s done in life you see the ego is justified!
His stories about other legendary performers are mostly positive, but in a funny and interesting way. He makes them seem like real people. When he gushes about some legend he’s had the opportunity to work with you feel the sincerity in his praise of them. He does discuss some famous people that he obviously didn’t think much of and though his commentary about them is biting at times, it just doesn’t have that whiney, “mean girl” feeling that so many people try to call “funny”. His negative comments are funny and seem to me like they came from an honest place.
I also like the way he sprinkles in some bits of wisdom around how he made some things in his career happen. He seemed to really appreciate the chances he's been given and those he made happen (remember...there's no shortage of ego). Since I didn’t start out as a big Pollak fan the book started a little slow for me, but once I got into it I enjoyed it to the very end. My only complaint is that my book purchase didn’t come with a voucher to meet Pollak in person.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
I have enjoyed Kevin Pollack's work for a long time. Hearing his story in his own voice, is priceless.
Kevin Pollack does such a great job at telling wonderful stories of working with Hollywood elite without sounding like he was name dropping. I think he is too humble to realize that he is now part of that Hollywood elite in my opinion.
This is one of the funniest audiobooks I have every listened to. While listening in my car, I am sure that I look ridiculous laughing my head off. I am sure that Kevin would enjoy that he was able to get one more person to humiliate himself at his expense.
I only recommend this if you want to laugh like you have not laughed in a long time.
WARNING - Do not get this book if you do not want to laugh out loud!
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about How I Slept My Way to the Middle?
I loved best that Kevin Pollak seems to be the guy he always seemed to be. He is amazingly talented. Incredibly funny, humble but at the same time not unaware that he is really good at what he does. He talks a lot about Tom Cruises' enthusiasm for everything. I'd similarly note Kevin's excitement at getting to meet as many of his heroes as he has and his seeming lack of awareness that he is right there with them as far as his fans are concerned.
What did you like best about this story?
I liked his writing style. It was effortless to listen to. I may get the book someday just to see the photos but if I had read the book I'd still do the audio just for the voices. I mean reading this book when audio is available would be like sending Stevie Wonder a painting for Christmas.
Which scene was your favorite?
There were so many where I laughed out loud. I don't even want to pick one...but to honor the question I'll mention Alan Arkin calling to tell Kevin he had to stop leaving messages for himself (it makes sense when you hear it). Or Rip Torn maybe which can't be printed here.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I choked up several times when he said things I feel deeply. I didn't choke up over his comment about why he hates strip clubs but I did laugh. I have always felt the same.
Any additional comments?
God, I hope he writes another book. I am going to find his online show next.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much. The author tells a good story, doesn't take himself (or the industry) too seriously, and just seems to enjoy retelling alot of the stories in this book. Great listen.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
No. I wanted to like it, but I found myself getting bored. I got this because I like Kevin Pollak and heard he does amazing impressions, so it seemed like the audiobook would be fun. His impressions are good, but they are not of people I am particularly interested in (Peter Falk, Jay Leno, Johnny Carson, to name a few). I'm 34... it's possible I'm a bit on the young end as far as being able to appreciate stories about the celebrities he met during his career. Also, I get annoyed with autobiographies that are too self-congratulatory.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I admit that I am a fan of Pollak, not a rabid fan, but I enjoy someone who actually has some talent and I am glad that he's succeeded. I love impressionists and he is one of the best. His film career is fun to follow along with and you get the bonus of hearing him do the voices of some of the actors, notably Nicholson, Walken, Brooks, as well as Johnny Carson. He has had an amazing career if you simply think of the classic actors he's rubbed elbows with and the icons of an older Hollywood he respects. I enjoyed it and went searching for some of his other recordings to listen to, his standup acts are on iTunes. Loved his stories for Nicholson and Carson and Usual Suspects, one of the greatest films ever.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Kevin Pollak is fantastic at doing impersonations, so audio is the best way to experience this book. In this audiobook, he impersonates Johnny Carson, Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Bill Clinton, William Shatner and many others.
He knows how to tell a good story, dish dirt about celebrities he's worked with, and make people laugh.
He does brag too much and I'm sure he's withholding some interesting things. For instance, he has only positive things to say about Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, and other controversial stars he's worked with, and he doesn't talk about why his marriage dissolved.
But even though this memoir is somewhat shallow, it's a ton of fun.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Kevin does a great job on telling some of his stories from his career. and it is really quite amazing how he has accomplished all that he has; from lip syncing to Bill Cosby to his Columbo impression, and off he goes. His stories are funny and sweet, and he only tells stories about those he really respects (mostly) and it shows. It was a wonderful book and I did not want to put it down -- and was sad to reach the end. If you enjoy celebrity name dropping books and stories about stars, you will enjoy this book.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Ended up binge listening to the last half. The names dropped are amazing and vital to the story.
great listen while kevin is doing the voices. it's way better than mine will be.
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
I expected a more irreverent look at the business instead of name dropping and kiss assing. Disappointed.