The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky (4 out of 5)
I honestly wasn’t real certain I knew who Stephen Tobolowsky was when I read the description. I had seen it in an email giveaway, however, and read the synopsis and it sounded as if it were right up my alley. Of course, by the time I was two chapters in and reading his stories of acting in certain movies in certain locations, I knew exactly who he is. And I felt like a dumbass for not knowing from his name. Tobolowsky is an actor who’s appeared in over 200 movies and television shows. He calls himself a “character actor”. I call him “Ned Ryerson”. I can tell you that he also rocks as an author.
Definitely a memoir, but Tobolowsky doesn’t give you the atypical memoir. It’s definitely a little bit of this, a little bit of that. It’s also downright hilarious in some places (the LSD in the coffee incident, and the New Year’s Eve party (which ended up sinking his first serious relationship), in particular. There are some great traveling stories, and some tips if you are hanging out in, say, Santa Fe, New Mexico, anytime soon. The title of the book comes from the first chapter of The Dangerous Animals Club, and how the events of your youth often repeat with your offspring, many years later.
You see some of the perils of trying to get noticed in Hollyweird and the painful process that leads him to that road, the behind-the-scene politics involved, Tobolowsky’s long-time relationship launching and then unraveling in somewhat spectacular fashion, meeting the woman who ends up being “The One”, and all sorts of mayhem in between. You get a little taste of his childhood, but you have the feeling that there’s a lot that he didn’t touch upon, for whatever reason(another book?). You do get a better idea of the bullshit involved with being an actor, even if it’s only as “The Extra”. What did I like the best? Tobolowsky has a very earnest way of writing that just pulls you in. You keep picking up the book to see what crazy shit he has to deal with next. And crazy shit there is. There is also a lot of heart in this book. Tobolowsky is a good guy, and you’re so glad that he comes out ahead in the game of acting, that you yearn for more. My only complaint? I wish the book were longer, and that they dive into his childhood more, because we all have those school cafeteria skeletons that shaped who we are today, and it feels like the brim of that beer glass has barely had the foam licked off of it here. Here’s hoping to a follow-up to this quirky read!