Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee
Controversial, funny, outrageous, naughty and talented. Sarah Silverman has been a mainstay on US television for over 15 years now. She’s star of The Sarah Silverman Program, and writer and performer for Saturday Night Live plus other comedy landmarks of comparable gravitas.
The Bedwetter is Silverman’s first memoir with thoughts and reflections on her 39 years of life to date.
I have been a Silverman fan for some time and was eager to see what she would serve up on paper. I had no idea what to expect, as I knew nothing of her life outside of her gags.
What The Bedwetter does it does quite well. It is a series of recollections of Silverman’s life that are sometime skewed for comic effect. However, she only allows us a simple overview of her life. Although she had a really tough start - the death of a brother before she was born, great battles with childhood depression, and the divorce of her parents - we rarely get to scratch beneath the surface of Silverman’s feelings, the reader is kept at arms length.
One of the more frank and honest confessions from Silverman is her struggle with chronic bedwetting, something she was plagued with well into her teens. She is open and honest about this for large sections of her book, and also uses this honesty to comic advantage - "I was a late bloomer all round. My period came late, my ability not to go off like a fucking lawn sprinkler every night came late, and sex came late. Essentially, everything to do with the general flow of traffic in my vagina came late."
There are some great stories about her time as an aspiring comedian in her drug and sex fuelled 20s, and she provides an interesting peek behind the curtain of the US comedy scene in the 90s. Details of the making of her show and Saturday Night Live are extremely interesting.
As you’d expect from a professionally funny person, there are some terrific laugh out loud moments. She muses about how dull diaries written by young girls are, including several extracts from her own, and continues: “I should say that I’m mostly talking about the diaries of teenage girls. Teenage boys diaries are different. They tend to read thusly: Dear Diary: I’ve been feeling so – oh, opps, look at this, I’m writing a diary. So I guess that settles it: I’m gay. Thanks Diary!”
Silverman writes her own Foreword, has a Midword half way in and God himself writes her Afterword.
I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I was hoping to. Silverman admits that this is probably a book to enjoy on the toilet. Perhaps I should have taken this advice and read short extracts on an occasional basis rather than getting through it all in one hit. Ultimately I wanted more from The Bedwetter, it isn’t as funny as I was expecting and the distance Silverman keeps from the reader means you never really feel like she is sharing a secret. Pity.