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Wednesday Giveaway and This Time It’s Personal

Here we are again. Leave a comment. Win a book. That’s how it works this week. Saturday I will choose one winner from each day’s comments (random). But if you can’t wait to see if you’ve won (that’s what I’m hoping) please go ahead and order or download your copy here.

This is from the chapter The Flying Handelmans.

“My trouble is, I’m named Bernard. Who made it my name? Did I make it my name? I don’t feel like a Bernard. I had hostile parents, and they named me Bernard. Is that my fault?”

“No. My trouble is, pause, I’m named Bernard,” my father corrected me. I was standing on a black stage in a small studio space in the San Fernando Valley where my father taught acting and stand-up comedy classes, performing a monologue from something called Feiffer’s People, for the twentieth time. Either it was his favorite monologue that had ever been written, by any playwright in the history of theater or he was simply too lazy to dig up something from this decade. From what I knew of him, I couldn’t help but suspect it was the latter.

My father, Stanley Myron Handelman, was a moderately famous television comedian in the late 60s’ early 70s. During his brief heyday, he filled theaters, palled around with the Rat Pack, and appeared on all the major talk shows. He did the Merv Griffin Show over thirty times, more than any other comedian, he would’ve been happy to tell you without prompting. I’d recently been reunited with him after about eight years of living in different parts of the country with my mother and stepfather and having virtually no contact with him.

One of the first things he did was invite me to take his class. I knew he’d been teaching stand-up comedy and acting for years; in fact I remembered quite clearly when I was about fourteen years old, on a visit to Los Angeles, sitting in an auditorium, watching him teach a class to a group of eager young students. He hadn’t done a television appearance in years at that point, but his students seemed to really look up to him. He was a god to them –if God had trained for his heavenly duties in the Catskills, wearing a newsboy cap and dark rimmed glasses. Like a lot of people, Stan’s students were captivated by his charisma and charm. So captivated, in fact, one of those students married him and became wife number four, succeeding my mother, who had filled the role of number three. She was twenty-six years old to his fifty-four.

My mother had remarried very soon after the divorce but my new stepfather was neither suited for, nor remotely interested in the role of surrogate dad. So, from the age of four onward, instead of two dads, there was a paternal placeholder in my life. In true Psych 101 fashion, I had a driving need to prove myself worthy of the fatherly approval that was in short supply. Add in my issues with food and body image, and it was like I’d been assembled in a lab from pieces of other needy chicks, to finance therapists’ vacation homes and retirements.

After moving to Los Angeles and tracking my father down at a local comedy/jazz club performing, we’d forged a tenuous relationship based partially on my desire to forge a connection with the father I never really knew and partially on my fascination with the art of stand-up comedy –which, in hindsight were probably one and the same. In addition to taking his class, I’d started going to a comedy club nestled in a San Fernando Valley Hilton on Sunday nights to watch some of his students who’d formed a comedy troupe. They were a group of approximately eight guys, coached by Stan, and going by the name The Flying Handelmans. I got to see them work on new material they’d honed in class, tighten bits that were already working and figure out why certain jokes that worked in class didn’t work in front of a live audience. These guys seemed like pros on stage, and were usually funny as hell. Although I wasn’t sure if I had the talent, I wanted to be a part of them and gain membership into Stan’s world, which to me would be the ultimate acceptance. But if I ever hoped to gain entrée to their performance group, I had to perform this crap ass monologue. Again.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on June 15, 2011 2:10 pmUncategorized28 comments  

28 Comments

  1. Black Hockey Jesus said,

    If I win, I’ll still PayPal you 10 bones. I just like winning things, if only to taunt the losers.
    Black Hockey Jesus´s last blog post ..Streaks

    | June 15, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  2. Mommy, Esq. said,

    I love these glimpses into your life. Since you write about yourself so much how does that impact your friendships – do people feel like they “know” you much more quickly than normal because they may have read one of your books?
    Mommy, Esq.´s last blog post ..Mommy- Esq- Watch Your Language!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  3. Amanda Lewis said,

    This is me leaving a comment :)
    Amanda Lewis´s last blog post ..10 Current Things

    | June 15, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  4. Jaedeanne said,

    Bernard. Such a great name.

    Can’t wait to read more!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  5. Sarah said,

    We’re broke from daycare bills, so I’d loved to win a copy! :)
    Sarah´s last blog post ..What makes me tick

    | June 15, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  6. kristen b said,

    Fingers crossed for a free signed copy!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

  7. Marta said,

    Hoping I Win!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

  8. Kelli said,

    Funny stuff! Tried to buy your book while in Vermont last week and they didn’t have you there! (It was a rather tiny store.) Get thee to the tiny stores!!!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

  9. Leah B said,

    My first thought after the first line was naming kids is hard. Since I just had my first & we are diaper poor I would love to win a copy!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

  10. Lisa said,

    Crap ass…..well said!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

  11. Amelia said,

    I was never good at monologues.. :))

    | June 15, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  12. Ellen S. said,

    You are so funny!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

  13. Lisa said,

    I laughed out loud at work. My co-workers think I’m nuts. I just smile and let them think what they want.

    | June 15, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

  14. Sara said,

    I would so covet a book signed by you!

    | June 15, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  15. Melissa I said,

    My grandpa’s name was Bernard. That gets me an extra entry right?

    | June 15, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

  16. Sydney said,

    Can’t wait to read your book! Huge fan!

    | June 16, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  17. Jill said,

    Been listening to the Parent Experiment! love it, can’t wait to read the book, or win one and pass it on!

    | June 16, 2011 @ 12:27 am

  18. beyond said,

    would love to read this. fingers crossed!
    beyond´s last blog post ..emotionality and roads

    | June 16, 2011 @ 1:56 am

  19. rebecca said,

    Since I’ll be buying diapers for live and paying for physical, developmental, speech and occupational therapy for the rest of eternity…..I hope I win.
    rebecca´s last blog post ..More On Potty Training

    | June 16, 2011 @ 2:12 am

  20. Leslie said,

    I am due to win something! Hope it is this!

    | June 16, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  21. Terry Settles said,

    I would have called the group Flying Off The Handelmans but there could be a marquee problem. My grandfather was also named Bernard (pronounced BER-nerd). He sadly died when I was 11, but not before building me a desk to do homework. Still have it. Wouldn’t take a million bucks for it.

    | June 16, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  22. Christina said,

    I had the same issues, trying to gain a positive male role model. It was hard, it still is.

    | June 16, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  23. Julie said,

    Spent yesterday, my bday, blowing out enough candles to light Chicago & wishing that I had the body of a 40+ year old and the face to go with it. On the up side, I have a lot of friends that tell me I look too young to be a grandmother, but then I’ve seen their gma’s and I don’t think that is a compliment either. I need botox or new friends. Hmmmmmm. Tough decision.

    | June 16, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

    • Stefanie said,

      You won the contest! Send me your address!
      Stefanie´s last blog post ..Win a Copy of I’m Kind of a Big Deal or Die Trying

      | June 24, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

      • Julie said,

        Thanks so much! I think I can honestly say this is the first and only contest I have every won. Celebrate, Celebrate, dance to the music!!!! You asked who to Sign it to….ME!!!! Damn it. I did the work, I deserve it….Right? Can’t wait to read it.

        Thanks again!!! You are now my favorite author. Sorry Ms. Lancaster.

        Julie Detlefsen
        17744 Layton Path
        Lakeville, MN 55044

        | July 2, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  24. Moi said,

    Need book now!!

    | June 17, 2011 @ 1:08 am

  25. Amy said,

    Want to win!!

    | June 17, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

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