Steve Bluestein: “Memoir of a Nobody” by Eileen Shapiro
Longtime stand-up humorist, TV personality, actor, play-write, author, and really hysterically funny guy, Steve Bluestein has recently released his deliriously maddened, and hilarious frenzied manuscript. I became acquainted with the quipster the other day on The Jimmy Star Show with Ron Russell, and couldn’t resist an interview.
His natural wit and surprising comical replies kept me laughing out loud during the hour and a half interrogation. With an impressive history of credits including: writing for Norman Lear, joining the staff for “Thirteen East”, being a segment producer for “The New Candid Camera”, and opening for artists such as Lanie Kazan, Steve has also written a successful play entitled “Rest, In Pieces”.
Steve Bluestein awarded me with a very candid and honestly funny conversation…..
Are you ready to be funny?
At 8:00 in the morning….sure.
You don’t sleep, do you?
Well, I go to bed at 11:00, and I’m up at about 5:30, 6:00 everyday. Sometimes I’m up at 4:00. Sometimes I think that I really should get chickens. That way I have something to do at 4 o’clock in the morning.
So, I would love to talk about your book. And the name of it is:
The name of it is, “Memoir of a Nobody”.
What was your inspiration to write the book?
I’ve had a really extensive career. I wanted to document my career, before I became too old to remember it. So I sat down one day and started writing. I looked at my resume because my resume is online, and I would see each person I opened for and then I would tell the story. As I was writing, it started triggering things from my childhood. Things that have always bothered me and I kept secret, and that I didn’t want to deal with. I just started writing about these things. It was like cathartic, just being able to get all this stuff out that was festering under my skin. Alongside that, things were happening on a daily basis that were just unbelievably funny to me, and so I included that in the book as well. So I wrote like 700 pages, and it took me three years. I wrote 700 pages and I split it up into two books. So the first book is, ” Memoir of a Nobody”, and the second book is “Another Memoir of a Nobody”. What I’m learning from people is that they are just loving this book. It’s funny and it’s touching and it’s easy to read because they are short little chapters. You don’t have to remember details from before like if you are reading a novel, because they are essays. I just did an interview yesterday with a guy from Texas who had read my book. It was almost embarrassing because he was so complementary. I had to think, oh my god what have I done, because I don’t see it. I read the stories and I say, “yeah so”… then somebody else reads the story and gets a whole different meaning out of it. The wonderful thing is on Facebook, people are just quoting lines and leaving them on my wall. Yesterday somebody wrote a line that said, “And my blood pressure was 600 over death”. I knew exactly what that was, it was a line from the book. But I love that because as a comedian I am used to standing on stage, saying something and then instantaneously hearing the audience respond. As a writer, you put your work out there and then you may not know for six or seven months if anyone out there is laughing at it. That’s the hardest part for me. So when people are quoting lines and telling me what they are laughing at it, that to me is like gravy.
So let’s go back a little. Were you born funny?
You know what, I was. I was born funny. I was a funny child and if you look at my high school yearbook it says, ” you’re the funniest person. You always kept me laughing. What a great sense of humor”. I can remember being in camp and writing sketches and having people laugh at them at age 8, 9 and 10. But there is something even more interesting which is I have a Russian travel agent. And we were talking one day and I told him my whole family was from Russia. He asked me where from in Russian and I told him Odessa. He said to me, “well then you must have a good sense of humor,” and I asked him why he said that. He told me that people from Odessa are known for their sense of humor. They actually have a comedy Festival that goes back centuries. I told him I was a comedian and a comedy writer. And he said, ” Well of course you are”. So it’s genetic, it really is genetic.
I’m Russian also, and I’m not funny.
You have come from the wrong city.
Maybe… can you recall a moment that changed the whole trajectory of your life?
Oh yeah…. I must’ve been about six years old and I was on the ground being beaten up by a bully in the projects where I lived. And it was a girl. Her last name was Cooper, I don’t even remember her first name. I remember being on the ground thinking to myself, “someday I’m going to be somebody that you’re going to be jealous of”. The whole family were a bunch of pricks. Her brother was a Cooper also and he made my life a living hell in high school. He was a bigger bully than his sister. I had to go back to Boston for an interview. The station had sent a limo for me. We had to go over the Tobin Bridge which is a toll bridge. When the limo got to the toll I looked over, and it was Robert Cooper the guy who had beat me up in high school collecting the tolls, it was really satisfying.
They say the best revenge is success. What was the proudest moment in your entire career?
The proudest moment for me was opening night of my play, “Rest, In Pieces”. It was at the Delaware theater and they were 500 people in the audience. The first joke in the script came and the audience exploded with laughter. When the play ended the audience stood and applauded. And I was just blown away. It was the proudest moment of my life.
When you get on stage, do you get nervous ?
I very rarely do a gig. The only time that I will do a gig now is if they offer me so much money that I can’t refuse. But oh my God before I go on stage I am so nervous…. The tapes stop running and you can’t remember your act, you can’t remember your lines, they’re not gonna laugh…. it’s going to be hell, what are you doing this for? That goes through your head. But as soon as you step on that stage into the spotlight, it’s like that dialogue gets shut off and suddenly I’m somebody else. But that five minutes before I go on is so painful for me, that I really don’t like to do it anymore.
You were telling me that you’re not really well known?
I’m not really well known. I’m famous within the comedy community. Other comedians, comedy producers, people who are really comedy aficionados, they know who I am. I’ve done it for a long time. But the lady in Ohio doesn’t know who I am. I’ve never seen that kind of national exposure. I really enjoy more sitting in my office and writing. I actually sat down one day on my computer to write and my hand started to hurt. I thought I was writing about 20 minutes so I thought I would take a break. I looked over at the clock and it had been three hours. You get like in a trance. I see it in my head like a movie. All I am doing is reporting on paper what I am seeing in my head.
Get Your Copy of “Memoir Of A Nobody” on Amazon here: