Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O’Donoghue, By Dennis Perrin

The Premise:
A biography of National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live writer and cast member, Michael O’Donoghue.

The Good:
Mr. Perrin clearly admires the work of Mr. O’Donoghue, but also brings a critical eye to the man himself. The author sets out to tell the definitive history of “Mr. Mike” and does so in a fairly detailed way. From Michael’s childhood to his formative years to his successes and failures, the book succeeds because the subject is fascinating to an absurd degree. Ultimately the book works because it’s a tragic peek inside the mind of a driven, uncompromising creative force.

The Bad:
There were times where I wondered if the book was all an elaborate hoax. Granted, I didn’t get to experience the heights of the Lampoon or the start of Saturday Night Live, but I had never heard of “Mr. Mike” and, as you read the book, you learn why.

I’m not saying that Michael O’Donoghue wasn’t an important influence in comedy, but even the book has a hard time reconciling what his legacy actually is or means. Was he a savior of dark comedy? Was he a man who got in his own way? Was he both or none? I just wonder if his story was the best story to tell.

The Verdict:
Buy it (if you can find a copy) if you are a lover of darker comedy, the history of more modern comedy or the eccentric creative mind.