In talking about his new book, “When the Balls Drop: How I Learned to Get Real and Embrace Life’s Second Half” (Gallery Books), comedian and actor Brad Garrett said, “The most important thing I wanted to achieve was to be candid, but also make people laugh about the foibles of life.”
The entertainer, who won three Emmys for playing Ray Romano’s brother Robert Barone on the long-running CBS hit sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” explained: “I never thought I would end up writing a book. But after I wrote a couple of essays about midlife crises and aging, my manager told I should do it. He told me ‘You should write a book, but just come out swinging and be honest.’
“So that’s what I did,” said Garrett, who admitted the process did make him feel like he was reliving his entire life. “It was a weird experience for sure. … Of course, I realized that along with my thoughts about the aging process, people would want to know how I got so screwed up in the first place,” said the actor with a chuckle. There is a reason for this journey being candid and irreverent. So, it turned out part memoir and the rest was spitting out my angst,” he added with a broad laugh.
BRAD GARRETT Book signings; luncheon When: May 8: 11 a.m. May 8 Where: Standard Club, 320 S. Plymouth Court Tickets: $40 for luncheon and discussion between Garrett and Mancow Muller (price does not include a copy of the book) When: 7 p.m. May 8 Where: Hollywood Palms Cinema, 352 S. Rte 59, Naperville Tickets:required and available at Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson, Naperville Info/tickets for both events: andersonsbookshop.com
Garrett’s book does meander around a bit. Fans of “Raymond” will be happy with his numerous behind-the-scenes anecdotes about Romano, Doris Roberts, Patricia Heaton and the rest of the cast and crew. Yet, Garrett also shares tales about standup experiences in Las Vegas and his struggle with personal demons such as drugs and alcohol and other factors that had a negative impact on his relationships and marriages.
One very funny story involves him making fun of a man and a female companion at a Vegas show when Garrett was opening for Frank Sinatra. He called the guy “Mr. Peanut” and did quite a number on the guy during his act. Only later did Garrett find out he shared something with that old line about cats. When he discovered “Mr. Peanut” was the notorious gangster John Gotti, he realized, “Apparently, I have nine lives.”
Speaking of Vegas, Garrett said, “It’s one of the greatest towns. You’ll see stuff you’ve never seen before — and you probably won’t want to see again. It’s turning into amazing mecca for chefs. I’m a foodie, so that’s something I love about Vegas today. Now that I’m in midlife, I’m in a different part of the town than I was when I was younger. I feel much safer now. I don’t have to get my shots before I leave town anymore. Now there is something good about maturing, wouldn’t you say?”
Asked how he thinks his “Raymond” co-stars will react when they read the book, Garrett admitted, “I’m a little worried about it, but there’s nothing in the book I haven’t said to them directly already. It was such a great time over those years of doing the show. I’m a very grateful guy. I’ve worked hard, but I’ve been lucky. No matter how hard you work at comedy, you still need a break, but I believe that the harder you do work, those breaks are likely to come faster.
“I teach a comedy class and I tell people who want to get into the business, ‘There’s nothing like being ready. You’ve got to study and hone your act, but always be ready. So, when you do get that shot, you’ll be prepared to take it — and run with it.'”
Along with joking in the book about his golf game, his distaste for working out, and how he learned he needed to back off from being a “helicopter parent,” Garrett clearly reveled in taking a shot at the airline industry. A major pet peeve: The requirement to “return your seat to the upright position for landing.”
The actor called that concept, “crazy,” and noted that it bugged him so much he reached out to a friend who is an American Airlines pilot.
“I asked him, ‘Give me the 4-1-1,'” said Garrett. “‘What’s with the seats?’ He said, ‘I have no idea,’ and then admitted that when he flies — including when he lands the plane — his seat in the cockpit reclines!”
“I guess it’s just all about them wanting to be in control of us,” added the comic.
As for Garrett’s upcoming projects, he’s most excited about a very different role for him.
“I just finished working on the second season of ‘Fargo.’ Ironically, I binge-watched the first season and loved the show a lot. So when a part came up I really worked hard with my agents and managers to really rally for me to get it.”
The actor said the four-episode arc has him playing a “guy who is in the Kansas City mob syndicate. It’s a serious role, but he was perfect for me. Noah Hawley [the “Fargo” series creator] wrote him with just a little dryness — a tinge of cynical humor to him. Perfect, don’t you think? For me, there’s always got to be a bit of a twist.”