Up next in The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide we have a great gift for any fan of comedian, John Byner, or any fan of showbiz stories or great autobiographies.
Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter
by John Byner and Douglas Wellman
foreword by Nathan Lane
ISBN-13 : 978-1608082346
$13.99 Kindle Edition $3.99
When I was a wee lad, John Byner was one of my favorite comedians. He was a talented impressionist (much better than Rich Little), he appeared on shows like Ed Sullivan, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Get Smart, Dean Martin and others too countless to mention. What got my interest initially was his cartoon voices, beginning with The Ant and The Aardvark and continuing for decades, up to this day. He was even the voice of Bill The Cat in the Bloom County animated TV Special, The Wish For Wings That Work.
He was always funny, talented and very likeable.
Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter, is a funny, pleasant likeable story of Byner’s life in show business. He spends some time on his early life, not dwelling on the negatives (his father passing away when he was young) but concentrating on his generally positive outlook and how he cultivated his talents into a long career. Byner, and his co-writer, Douglas Wellman, have crafted a very enjoyable showbiz book.
In briskly-written chapters, Byner gives first-hand accounts of working as a stand-up in The Hungry I, a legendary comedy club, and tells his readers what it was like appearing on shows with Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson. He talks about his many film roles, dropping some big names along the way, and gives accounts of what it was like appearing on TV shows like Soap and Bizarre, which Byner hosted for five years, and which was the show that made Super Dave Osbourne a star years after he first appeared on another variety show hosted by Byner.
We don’t get a lot of personal details, and to be honest, that’s a bit of a relief. I wanted to read the story of Byner’s career, and didn’t need to hear the warts-and-all details of his three divorces. We do get a chapter on dealing with hecklers and difficult people (like Woody Allen and Alan King), but the book is overwhelmingly positive and enjoyable.
Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter is a fascinating time-capsule into show business in the 1960s and beyond that doesn’t weigh down the reader with dark stories of personal demons. It’s a quick and enjoyable read, but it’s got lots of meaty showbiz stories.
Aside from a couple of small, trivial quibbles I do recommend this book for anybody who wants to hear some great showbiz tales without any heavy overtones. Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter can be ordered from Amazon in print in or Kindle form.