Review: Bernie Mac

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[Entertainment: Books]

Bo Diddley. Odetta. George Carlin. Arthur C. Clarke. Estelle Getty, Isaac Hayes, Paul Newman, Sydney Pollack, Larry Smith.

We, as a nation, lost a lot of talented people in 2008, and the names above are but a few. They were actors who made us laugh or cry, athletes who amazed us and writers who took us to another world with their words. These are the names we’ll remember because of the legacies they left.

One of those talents gone is comedian Bernie Mac. In the audio version of his autobiography "Maybe You Never Cry Again", you get a real treat: you’ll hear Mac’s story from the man himself.

Born in the Blackstone area of Chicago in October of 1957, Bernie Mac says he knew before he started school that he wanted to make people laugh. It started when he found his mother crying and he started clowning. Like the title of this book, he hoped she never cried again.

But she did. When Bernie (or "Beanie", as his mother called him) was a young teen, Mary McCullough was diagnosed with cancer. She died when Bernie was just 16 years old. Mac’s beloved grandmother died soon afterward.

Mac says that he knew he had to pay the bills once he was on his own – particularly after his girlfriend got pregnant and he suddenly became a husband and father – so he took a series of jobs as a delivery man, an UPS driver, and more. Still, he had his sights set on becoming a comedian by doing stand-up in Chicago and the Midwest, and eventually going so far as to leave his family temporarily to try comedy in California.

Though he was known as being fall-down funny and had performed onstage often, Mac’s career didn’t take off nationally until he was in his early 30s. He was soon seen on cable TV, in the movies, and opening for big-name entertainers, the latter job because of his chutzpah: when Mac went backstage to introduce himself to Redd Foxx, the elder comedian put Mac onstage that very night.

"Life was sweet", says Mac in the beginning of his story, and so is this audio book. I love when authors read their own works, because nobody can tell a man’s story better than himself.

It’s curiously soothing to hear Mac’s voice, especially knowing that he died this past summer. In this audio book, he tells about his childhood and the unconditional love and support he got from his mother and grandmother. He remembers how he took complete responsibility for his family while keeping an eye on his ultimate dream. And in a way, he gives encouragement through memories of his once-stuttering career.

On the flip side, listening to Mac is chilling, especially when he talks about his own funeral. He dismisses the hoopla of the rite, but a reported 7000 people showed up nonetheless when Bernie Mac died.

If you missed this biography – published several years ago – pick it up now that it’s been released in audio. "Maybe You Never Cry Again" is definite enjoyment.

Book Details: "Maybe You Never Cry Again" by written and read by Bernie Mac c.2008, HarperAudio. $14.95 / $16.25 Canada. 4-1/2 hours / 4 CDs

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