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So Far, So Funny: My Life in Show Business Library Binding – 31 Oct 1998

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"Kanter recalls his life and career as a writer in his must-read b

About the Author

Hal Kanter continues to write, produce and direct in Encino, California. He has cowritten 28 Academy Awards shows. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating and Irreverent 19 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Library Binding
So Far, So Funny is a fascinating and irreverent look at show business over the last 60 years. Author Hal Kanter's experience spans radio, TV and movies during the Golden Age of each medium. Kanter's dry wit never turns brittle as he guides the reader anecdotally through his career as comedy writer, director and producer. Never at a loss for words, most of them funny, Kanter drops more Hollywood names than Elia Kazan. Among my favorites is his anecdote of the dapper character actor Adolph Menjou whose arrogance apparently was matched by his abilities. Kanter sums up his own life (and his book) in his comment about his friend and colleague George Gobel: "He spent 60 years, man and boy, exercising his gift to amuse- or at the least, to keep us from getting sullen". No one can read So Far, So Funny and remain sullen.
Ellen Fremadon
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a remarkable book 23 Jan. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Library Binding
"SO FAR, SO FUNNY (My Life In Show Business)" by Hal Kanter Published by McFarland & Co. (320 pp. $35 library binding; photos, index) Reviewed by Page Turner ========================================================================
Every generation or so, a new comic voice is enlisted in a pantheon of American humorists that include Mark Twain, Will Rogers and Fred Allen. Now comes a laugh-a-paragraph memoir from veteran comedy writer Hal Kanter, who says modestly that he has often been compared unfavorably with these giants. But his fresh, impudent memoir of growing up in the Deep South and fleeing from the Shallow North will alter that comparison. For Kanter has helped keep the world laughing for at least 60 years through radio, movies, TV and speaking out loud in public. SO FAR, SO FUNNY covers Kanter's life from his birth in Savannah, Georgia, through his first work as an adolescent cartoonist in New York to a second career as a journalist before arriving, at the age of 18, on the doorstep of his ultimate profession as a multiple Emmy Award winning and big-screen writer, director and producer. In unadorned prose, peppered with droll observations and wit, he writes of the celebrated people he has worked with. One gets the feeling that while journalist Kanter missed nothing, gentleman Kanter reports only part of what amused him, leaving us wanting more. The book is populated with people of prominence in both the lively arts and deadly politics: Elvis and Madonna; Hope and Crosby, Olsen and Johnson, Martin and Lewis; Wendell Willkie, Adlai Stevenson and Walter Mondale, Groucho and Tallulah, Gable and Gobel, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Carl Sandburg. Al Jolson, Ed Wynn; Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock and George Cukor; Diahann Carroll, Peggy Lee, Barbra Streisand and many others listed in an 18-page index. The reader accompanies Kanter backstage to several of the 28 Oscar shows to which he contributed more than his scripts. Having served as the warm-up speaker on a dozen Academy Awards, he gives us insider moments that bring more laughs than some of the shows themselves. Even when the author faces a life-threatening medical problem, he finds ways to amuse his doctors and keep his family's spirits high. SO FAR, SO FUNNY will keep yours up, too. It's a memorable read. ======
Poorly Written Stories That Have No Punchlines 24 Dec. 2012
By Mediaman - Published on
A Hollywood writer tells his life story in this surprisingly poorly-written book that is filled with stories that are often confusing, incomplete or have no punchlines. There were a number of times when I had to reread paragraphs two or three times and still didn't understand what he was talking about. The pages are filled with rambling nonsense that is tedious and only of interest to those that fondly recall the early days of radio or World War II.

This man worked on some of the biggest shows of all time, writing for Amos 'n Andy, helping Lucy get her start on the tube, and even producing All in the Family for a short time. Why does he devote only a few paragraphs to each of these??? The only non-war entertainment work he devotes any amount of time to is his many years writing for the Oscars, which contain some juicy inside stories, but at the end of that chapter he apologizes for going on too long!

Kanter is now known for one thing: creating the TV show "Julia." While the groundbreaking sitcom about a black single mother deserves a place in TV history (and should be the subject of an entire book) here the author devotes only 12 out of 300 pages to the show, and that includes about four pages of big photos! It's a major disappointment that he doesn't go into how the show was made, how he dealt with public outcry, what feedback he got from the black community, etc. Instead we find out that Diahann Carroll was often late (he only mentions her in a couple paragraphs!) and Marc Copage was cute.

The problem is that Kanter is more interested in telling minute, insignificant details about what he ate, how much he paid to rent a place to live or famous people he ran into than telling great stories. Who cares that he once stood silently in an elevator with Greta Garbo if he really has no other story to tell about her? Who cares that his onetime boss Danny Kaye once cooked for him when Kanter fails to deal with any of the infamous stories about Kaye? Who cares that he devotes over 30 pages to his war years when little happened in his relatively cushy military work?

The book is also filled with comments that can be construed to be sexist, racist and bigoted. He has no problem tossing insults at some famous people and mentioning others' sex lives while he almost never goes into detail about his own mistakes. His attempts at humor, which fill every page, fall completely flat and one wonders how he ever was employed as a comedy writer.

So while the book is filled with stories, it is proof that stories are only worth reading about if they are told in a detailed, interesting way. For a guy who had a career as a professional writer this is a poor reflection of his talents.
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