Stefanie Wilder-Taylor hosts a late night (well, 9pm) stand up show on Nickelodeon. I knew I had heard her name somewhere before I read the book, and it struck me at one point. Her stand up (which I’ve never really watched, but I catch the commercials when they rerun Friends…) focuses mostly on mom stuff. I doubt, however, that it gets as real as this book does.
Most of I’m Kind of a Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy focuses on Wilder-Taylor’s (slow, grueling) ascent into (almost) stardom. It’s pretty funny — she runs away to New York for a week but her parents don’t notice, she works a lot of waitressing jobs, she goes on some awful auditions. She also drives some celebrities around as a limo driver, and maybe does some light stalking. Overall, cute and funny stuff.
What sets this memoir apart from other, similar ones that I’ve read is the darker stuff. She touches on her relationship with her father quite a bit: he was a stand up comedian in the 60s and 70s (Stanley Myron Handelman, if that rings any bells) and absent for most of her childhood (she was the product of his third or fourth marriage). She spends a lot of time discussing how badly she wants him to be proud of her own accomplishments in his field, while also frustrated with and ashamed of his drinking and pill-popping.
She also touches on her own bad habits. After having her kids, she finds herself no longer enjoying her evening glass of wine, but now needing it badly. She discusses her alcoholism towards the end of the book, and while she doesn’t go too much into detail, it’s a brave and difficult chapter coming from someone who so enjoys to laugh and make people laugh.