If you have never been to the Miami Book Fair, may we suggest you do. Not a huge fan of books? Neither are we. We CliffNoted our way through college. And if it isn't written by a celebrity, we probably want nothing to do with it. Which is exactly why we were in when we heard Darrell Hammond would be presenting his new controversial autobiography at the book bonanza. And Saturday night, we got one of the last seats available -- in between a hipster and an abuela.
The day began with an introduction of Hammond and while it was a little like the Coral Gables commissioner was reading off his Wikipedia page, we learned a lot about him. He was born and raised in Melbourne, Florida, went to UF and only after graduating with an impressive 2.1 GPA did he head over to New York City to conquer his Saturday Night Live dreams.
When Darrell came out, the crowd went as wild as we imagine a book fair would allow. He took the podium, thanked everyone for coming and got right to business. But he himself had some questions for us: "So, did you guys know they won't sell my book at airports or Barnes & Noble? Kind of bullshit, right? Is this a freedom of speech issue?"
Then began 30-minutes of discussing his book and it was a strange half hour. But we mean strange in the best way possible. The title, God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked, was actually inspired after a stint in prison in the islands where he thought to himself that exact same statement. But he wants you to know, he does in fact believe in the big man upstairs. Surviving years of child abuse from his mother is one of the reasons he does.
After going into details with the audience of a life being raised by a mother who was physically and emotionally abusive, trips to psychiatric hospitals, cuttin,g and his love for alcohol and drugs, he took a look at the crowd and explained, "See? Some serious shit. Let's get to funny. Do you want to hear my Clinton or Connery impression first?"
And that's how the rest of our time went with him went. Right as he would discuss his times of doing crack and cutting himself, he would tell the story of how "Celebrity Jeopardy" on SNL came to life. Funny to sad, funny to sad and ending with a spot-on Dick Cheney impression, that was our 30 minutes with Hammond. And actually, that is just what God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked is like.
You also might have looked at our title and thought, "Nazis?" Well, yes. That was actually another shocking moment in Hammond's talk at the book fair. While his mother was mentally abusive, his dad didn't stop it. Mainly because he was very rarely anywhere to be found.
On his death bed, his father explained his time in World War II and his obsession with Hitler is probably the reason why he wasn't a better father. Hammond went on to tell us that the reason he quit SNL was because a stalker had threatened him and his family to the point he thought their lives were in danger. Can you now see why this was quite the author presentation?
When a comedian writes a book, you expect it to be laugh out loud funny, just like them. And don't get us wrong, we bought the book after his speech and we can tell you it is indeed comical. If you to know what it is like to be on of the funniest men to ever be on SNL, he will tell you.
But you will also read about a the part of his life that will make you want to run and hug a loved one. If you decide to pick it up, we don't think you will regret it. But definitely get some tissues handy first.
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