True Story is Maher's debut novel about the wild and crazy life of the stand-up comedian -- a bawdy, rowdy tell-all report from the front line.
Set in New York, circa 1979, in the late-night, neon-lit comedy clubs when the comedy boom was just heating up, True Story features five would-be comics, their shticks, their chicks, their rampant egos. These guys are desperate for celebrity, desperate for money, and—what else?—desperate to get laid. Which means they're also required to become "road comics," shacking up in low-rent condos provided by sleazy club owners as the comedy scene spreads to the heartland in the early '80s.
The result is a hilariously funny novel about the peculiar world of stand-up, where the ultimate prizes are fame, fortune, and fornication -- and the ultimate aspiration is, quite simply, to be laughed at. With perfect-pitch delivery, in classic sardonic style, Maher gives us a bona fide look at these resilient comedians and the scumbag promoters, hostile audiences, and die-hard groupies who make up their warped and twisted world.
Only Bill Maher could have written True Story. And lucky for us he did. Because True Story is hilarious. It's offensive. At times it's even touching. So sit back as Maher puts you stage side at the very birth of the comedy boom. You'll laugh in all the right places. Hey, it's a True Story.
Few things are less enticing than a comedy novel that's not funny. Maher's misogynist, juvenile fiction debut about five young New York comics in search of laughs and sex (not necessarily in that order) lands with the dull thud of a drum roll after a painfully bad joke. The author, host of the cable comedy show Politically Incorrect , gets his story off to an atrocious start by naming his protagonists Dick, Shit, Fat, Chink and Buck, according to their proclivity for jokes about body parts, body functions, appearance, racial identity and so on. Unfortunately, the maturity level goes downhill from there. While Maher does offer a few good one-liners along with some revealing insights into the vagaries of a life in comedy, most of the shallow prose deals with the boys' attempts to get gigs, get laid, get over on sleazy club owners and come to grips with the fact that they lead an incredibly vacuous life based largely on surface cleverness. It's hard to determine what's most offensive: the emptiness of Maher's characters, the hostility of their material or the way both author and characters treat women. If this book were a cable comedy special, it would be zapped within seconds by remote controls across the land.