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Book Review: Behind the Laughter, Hidden Tears by Sal Richards

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Sal Richards, a successful entertainer who’s enjoyed 40 years in show business, is best known for being a talented comedian and actor. In his autobiography, Behind the Laughter, Hidden Tears, published by the Strategic Book Group, Sal Richards shares his life story, but It isn’t just another story on show biz, although there are interesting stories involving celebrities. (My favorite celebrity dish revealed a shocking story about 70s star, Helen Reddy. Reddy is famous for singing, “I Am Woman” but after reading about Reddy’s bad behavior, you’ll rename the song that branded her to: “I Am Nothing; Just Another Big Bully”!) Sal Richard’s story is inspiring and encourages anyone, down on his luck, to stop asking the question, “Why me?” and follow his example.

Once upon a time, just a city kid from the Bronx, the reader quickly learns who the real Sal Richards is. He is a man of character and strength, not afraid to chase his dreams, even when family members are telling him daily to “Get a job”. Sal Richards is a family man, who adores his wife, his mother and children and holds on to his faith, like a true fighter, even when life is dishing out below- the- belt- blows, strong punches that would have knocked out the likes of Rocky Balboa.

You can’t bully Sal Richards out of the ring. He comes back harder, taking what life gives him, blessed or horrific, and somehow manages to go own, grow as a person, learn from his mistakes and become a better man. He shares his “behind the scenes” life with the reader that includes personal tragedies involving family, as well as career setbacks, like in his early career when he struggled and couldn’t make the rent, he was evicted ,not once but twice.

The chapters are short, on average two pages long, and sequenced chronologically. His writing style is informal and in the Prologue, he tells the reader he got stuck at the airport and had to wait eight long hours for his next flight. Wondering how he’d kill the time, a thought popped into his head; “Well, why don’t I write a book?”  In the last chapter, “The Future”, the reader learns this book is a companion to the movie, Mr. Laughs: A Look Behind the Curtain, a documentary on his life that won six best feature documentary awards in 2008-2009, at film festivals around the US.

His story is gripping,emotional and deeply personal. The book is a fast read and I read it in one sitting.Turning the pages quickly, I was eager to learn what was going to happen next. Just by flipping through the pages and stopping to look at old family photos and photos with celebrities incuding: Jay Leno; Ben Stiller; Joy Behar (from “The View”); Muhammad Ali; Robert Goulet; Perry Como; Sid Ceaser; Micky Mantle; Milton Berle — and that only names a  few, it  was enough to hook me! I honestly felt a virtual- friendship -kind- of -connection grow as I developed admiration for the man,marveling at the way he “held it together” during  very difficult periods of his life.

In my opinion, Sal Richards was dealt too many unfair cards, but chooses to live his life focusing on the many beautiful royal flushes he’s also received, in this card game called life. His words made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes. I got the chills reading the chapter, “The Visit”, which details a bizarre happening at his house. The poem he shared, written by his son, was touching and caused me to reflect on how fragile and fleeting life truly is.

Sal Richards writes with honesty. Like a friend who’s talking to you, he speaks to the reader in a genuine conversational style, all his own. (Maybe that’s what creates the bond between the reader and this author.) For example, in one chapter, the reader learns for the first time that a tragic event is beginning and it will be understood better in the following chapters. He ends this chapter by admitting; “I’m getting too emotional to continue — writing this has brought it all back to me. We’ll meet in the next chapter.” How can you not be touched by this man’s sincerity?

If you’re looking for creative, poetic writing that is full of imagery or fullness of chapters, detailed in development, you won’t find it here. Sal’s book is concise and shares information quickly, giving a glimpse into his world. It might leave the reader wanting to know more, but he shares just enough to satisfy and understand who Sal, the man not the entertainer, is. His writing, simply stated, is direct and to the point. He even tells the reader that if he had included more details, the book would have become an encyclopedia.

I highly recommend his book because it accomplishes what it sets out to do; it encourages the downtrodden to hold their head up high and refuse to quit. The common threads throughout the story are; value family and never take anything for granted; keep the faith even when you feel like God has deserted you; don’t be afraid to chase your dreams; accept what is and move on.

Sal Richards is a stellar entertainer, but more than that, he’s an inspiration, modeling courage when faced with adversity and heartbreak. His perseverance, moral character and strength will leave you shaking your head and mumbling; “How’d he do that?”

 Thank you Sal Richards for sharing your story and reminding us that even if life isn’t for the faint of heart, the show must go on…and somehow, we’ll end up okay…

More on the Author’s Website.

 

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About Luanne Stevenson

Published Ghost Writer; Freelance Writer
  • J GUALBERTI

    I READ THIS IN 1 DAY -WHAT A STORY- MY HUSBAND READS -BUT NOT AUTO BIOGRAPHIES-HE PLAYED WITH JOE PEPITONE- I WORKED COLONY HILL MICKEY ASKED I BE HIS DATE-SAT WITH HIM/P OOOPER- TOLD MY HUS YRS LATER I RAN BACK TO MY JOB-/WE WERE BORN B’KLYN CAME TO L I 69