Alan Alda Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself Say is a great book.
Alan Alda is an odd bird. Successful beyond the dreams of avarice, rich and famous, respected and beloved by millions. Yet he still manages to come across like an average guy that just happens to make the occasional movie and TV Show for a lark. He takes his art seriously and talks about the many causes that he had protested for or marched for or petitioned for over the years. These are all things that seem to be the norm for him. Alan Alda wouldn’t be Alan Alda if he didn’t believe in things and feel strongly enough about them to want to do something to make them come to pass.
So this book, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, is a collection of speeches he have given over the years and how he feels about those speeches as he looks back on them now. There are plenty of times when the modest and humble Alan Alda seems to be a pompous ass who knows more than everyone else. Well, he should know more than most us, as he has done a lot more than most of us.
I have plans of becoming a Voice Over actor, and it more than a bit humbling to hear a master like Alan Alda read a book. Even if it is his own book and he should know the timing and the proper feeling. I’ve started to notice the odd word here and there in an audio book, Locusts jumped out in Things I’ve Overhead While Talking to Myself. He pronounced it Lo-Cus-Ts, not Lo-Cus. I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone pronounce the T at the end of Locusts. But that is one of the things they tell you to do the in Voice Over books-pronounce all the letters in words.
Alan Alda manages to make himself look less like a Superstar by comparing himself to people such as Thomas Jefferson and Richard Feynman, two men who redefined genius in their own times. So compared to these two, an actor who had the good luck to have a great talent agent and land a job on a hit TV show is not all that amazing. Only, he’s Alan Alda, and he is totally amazing.
One of my favorite silly songs is the talking song Trust Me About The Sunscreen, in which a lot of silly and patently boring advice is given to a graduating class. Among the advice is such things as Use Sunscreen, Floss, Be a Friend, and Don’t Play Around With Other People’s feelings. It seems that bit of silliness was originally attributed to Kurt Vonnegut. It certainly seems the kind of nonsense that Kurt Vonnegut would write, but he didn’t. Alan Alda spends a bit of time talking about this most famous graduation speech that was never given.
All actors who are famous for one role, no matter how many other roles they play, have the problem of being identified with that role. Leonard Nimoy wrote a book called I’m Not Spock, and letter decided, what the hell, and wrote another one called I Am Spock. Alan Alda is not Hawkeye Peirce, but he might as well be. Though to be honest, I loved Same Time Next Year and The Four Seasons as well. But when I hear Alan Alda talking, I don’t hear Alan Alda, I hear Hawkeye Peirce. I’m sure Alan Alda is a swell guy, but Hawkeye, well, he’s a hell of a great guy and I’ve spent the better part of my life in his company.
Alan Alda was born into show business and I’m glad that he was. I like his speeches, and I like Alan Alda. Alan Alda is the result of a lifetime’s worth of work. Most of us don’t bother putting in the work, we just want the fame and the money. That’s why Sports are so popular and being rocket scientists-well, not so much. Alan Alda had a science show for 11 years, which I almost never watched. It almost got him killed. I want to travel the world, but I’d really want it to kill me while I’m doing it. That’s dedication.
I read Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up not too long ago, and there was a lot of talk there about the burden of being famous. As with Steve Martin, I feel like I could sit down and chat away the odd hour with Alan Alda. I’ve known him for the better part of my life. He seems like a nice guy. But Alan Alda tells me, hey, I don’t know you and you don’t me. Steve Martin basically says the same thing. Alan Alda says that he has the experience of people walking up to him and they would say-“Your my biggest fan.” I guess it just goes with the whole rich and famous bit.
This is a fun listen. It’s not Hawkeye Peirce talking, but it’s the next best thing.