Friday, September 21, 2012

Reader's Diary #871- Greg Malone: You Better Watch Out


I've mentioned my love for Kids in the Hall many times, but before them, I was a Codco fan. Friday Night Girls, Cooking With Spook, House of Budgell, the Queen's Counsellors... If you didn't watch the show, these titles mean nothing to you. But if you did watch this groundbreaking, boundary pushing sketch comedy show, my walk down memory lane no doubt brings a smile to your face. You can probably add some favorite recurring sketches of your own.

After Codco of course, Tommy Sexton died due to AIDS complications, Andy Jones went on to write for the Kids in the Hall (for a season) and popped up in the occasional movie, Cathy Jones and Mary Walsh had tremendous success on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, while Greg Malone (arguably the star of CODCO— his Barbara Frum impersonation is a classic) has pretty much stayed out of the (National) limelight. What happened to him?

He's been writing apparently. But though one of his books, You Better Watch Out, is a memoir, don't expect much else in the way of catching up with his life either during CODCO or since. You Better Watch Out details his early childhood up to his junior high years. I didn't know this when I requested a review copy from Random House, but that's okay. The story I ended up reading was pleasant nonetheless.

That probably sounds like I'm dismissing the book, but I'm not. Anyone with a passing interest in mid-20th century memoirs, Newfoundland, and/or light hearted family stories, would appreciate You Better Watch Out. I found it reminiscent of the Wonder Years. If Kevin Arnold grew up in St. John's. Went to a Catholic School. Was gay.

I was somewhat surprised at the positive tone. I guess I stereotyped comedians as dark, troubled souls. Plus, knowing that Malone was gay and growing up in the 50 and 60s, I assumed this would have led to all sorts of emotional turmoil. While there are moments of distress (disconnect with his father, run-ins with occasional bullies, belt-wielding priests), the book is almost void of bitterness. Lately I've been letting go of some of my own bitterness, with the realization that my childhood woes were really par for the course and that many have had it much, much worse. You Better Watch Out, with its tagline, "It is, I contend, no small achievement to survive the perfect family" came along at a good time in my life.

Still, readers don't get a lot in the way of surprises or Codco trivia. I didn't know that Malone went to school with former premier Danny Williams or that he was best friends with Andy Jones, but that's about it. I'm hoping Malone decides to write a sequel. Not to "get to the good stuff" just the stuff I'd been looking for in the first place. And if so, I hope he includes more pictures.

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