Pat Cooper is an angry guy.
Of course you know that; angry is Pat Cooper’s schtick. I’ve listened to him do variations on the angry Italian guy my whole life, and as an act, it’s pretty funny even if a one-note performance. But who knew he was this angry in real life…about everything?
Sure, Howard Stern listeners have heard him rant on about just about everything, including pot-shots at his own family. But damn, after reading How Dare You Say How Dare Me, I’m starting to wonder who Pat does like. If there’s a theme to the book, it’s not letting anyone tell you what to do, even if that costs you your family, a shitload of money and some great career opportunities. But Cooper, approaching 82, is still working steadily and has done so for almost sixty years. He’s on to something.
I was hoping Cooper’s autobiography would be a treasure trove of anecdotes about show business and comedy; he’s only crossed paths with thousands of famous names over the years. But those which are more than passing references are few and far between – some with praise (Jerry Lewis, Sergio Franchi), and many who got on Pat’s bad side for one reason or another. Some borrowed money and didn’t return it. Some didn’t treat him with the respect he wanted. Some just landed opportunities he thought he deserved.
It’s a pretty bitter story, actually, with Pat constantly reminding people that he’s “a name act”. Usually when you have to do that, it’s not that true. It might have been more interesting to hear how other people felt about him and thought of him, but autobiographies are usually one-sided affairs.
Video: Drew Carey Roast
In fairness to Pat, he is and continues to be a huge draw in the showroom circuit, and he’s carved such a niche for himself that he’ll likely work until he keels over on the stage. Thousand of people will pay top dollar to see him and likely laugh their asses off, and when he gets invited to roast some celebrity I’m sure he’ll go off on them like clockwork. But those people would be advised to skip the book.
Biographies of comedians usually fall into two categories – informative and funny, and the best ones are both. This one, unfortunately, is neither. I didn’t really learn much about Cooper that I didn’t know already, and what I did learn wasn’t complimentary. Pat is a legendary comic; just ask him, he’ll tell you. Pat holds a grudge. Pat doesn’t suffer fools, whether waiters, actors, radio hosts or his own family. If there is an astounding fact in the book, it’s that he was married to one woman for so long.
Pat Cooper on Wikipedia
Pat Cooper website
Pat Cooper swag at Laugh.com