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Customer Review

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A book about nothing! Seriously, nothing at all., 13 Oct. 2012
This review is from: My Seinfeld Year (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
My Seinfeld Year (Kindle Single)

by Fred Stoller

Fred Stoller is a man who is probably known to you, by his own admission, as the modern equivalent of Second Gentleman in a Shakespeare play. You'll recognise him (or not) as the one-scene terrible waiter, or the annoying delivery man, or, in the case of his role in Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray's "mopey cousin". This Kindle Single is an attempt to explain away a career.

He paints a vaguely amusing picture of a childhood in Brooklyn with a noisy, neurotic mother, and a silent, emotionally absent father, although he doesn't seem to realise that pretty much everyone was in that situation. His "greatest accomplishment" was a perfect school attendance record. Then he paints a vaguely amusing picture of unsuccessfully trawling the stand-up clubs and being depressing on Letterman. Then he paints an entirely unamusing picture of landing a Seinfeld script-writing gig, where it becomes clear that he's taking out his bitterness at his rejection by a woman on Seinfeld viewers, but not in a good way. His unpleasant attitude towards women, that they are products from him to consume, is reinforced by an unfunny anecdote about his time filming Dumb and Dumberer.

All this is leading to the mast of the book, around which the flimsy sails of his crappy career flap weakly: the juicy stuff about his time on Seinfeld. This is what we paid for: the good stuff. Tell me more about that hilarious time you showed up to work wearing a belt! Please tell me ALL the brands of cereal available to the writers in the conference room! I need to know more about the bureaucratic process of getting script approval from four separate people and then have all your ideas, most of which seem to be the expatiation of personal vendettas, canned! It turns out that a writer's view of the television process either isn't very interesting, or he missed all the interesting meetings. According to Stoller, it's mostly petty two-faced bickering or sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. That might make a mediocre Seinfeld episode, but it makes an awful book. It's not a good sign when the funniest parts of the book are off-hand Larry David quotes. But then again, Larry David is funny.

We are then treated to a tedious description of his bit-parts on terrible television shows post-Seinfeld, which might as well have been copied and pasted from his IMDb entry for all it adds to our impression of Stoller. There's a slightly interesting account of his part in a Seinfeld-themed bus tour in New York, but it's nothing I'd pay £1.99 to download.

Don't get me wrong; I love bitter, depressed, self-obsessed, Jewish losers! People like Woody Allen, Larry David and Ken Finkleman have made wonderful, successful, entertaining careers out of it. The difference is that whereas those comedy geniuses use their adverse circumstances as a starting point for comedy, Stoller seems to believe that his is an inherently comedic situation for which he is owed an audience. Even that wouldn't be so bad if he could write properly. He cannot. His sentences are awkward, and his stories have little in the way of artistry or talent: "This happened. Then this happened. Then someone said this. Then I felt bad." Even if he had something interesting to say, and even if he had writing skills, he still comes off as talentless, unlikeable, bitter and willing to use any and all avenues to prosecute his personal grudges, but not in a way that would make you want to read it, as it might with, say, Joan Rivers. Then again, Joan Rivers is funny.

Name-dropping the likes of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber while simultaneously trashing their appeal? Blaming an audience's lack of response to his material on their lack of sophistication? Blaming the lack of response to his Seinfeld ideas on the lack of vision of the producers? Endlessly leveraging his peripheral connection to Seinfeld while mocking people who love that show so much that they would pay for a Seinfeld bus tour of New York? Maybe Fred Stoller needs to take the advice of the "directors" (plural!) he mentions at the start of the piece: "Don't be so pathetic."

(Original review on eldink.co.uk)
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