But if you buy the book -- and if you like a laugh you really should -- don’t expect linear stories about where he grew up and how he became a comedian.
“It’s a stand up comedian’s memoir, but it won’t be placed in the comedy section of the bookstore. I want to appeal to the Irish. If you can win them over then everyone will follow. If gay guys are the ones people follow into real estate, then the Irish are the ones they follow into books,” Fitzsimmons reckons.
The McCourts wrote books that lured you in with the lowered expectations of memoirs, Fitzsimmons says, and then they blew you away with a narrative that was so well written, so heartfelt and so tragic and comic that you couldn’t help but respond.
“To me it was like saying, ‘Hey we’re Irish, we’re not snobs, we don’t stand on ceremony or proper etiquette. We don’t belong to private country clubs. We’re about putting it all out there, our humor that is.’
“Most people don’t know the other side of it. They don’t know the deep feelings that exist there too. People don’t really know that there’s this love behind it all.”
As well as the deep love for his family and friends, there’s his limitless curiosity too. In the book Fitzsimmons’ endless curiosity leads him into scrapes, one after another, and some more surprising than other.
In college he takes a walk into Fenway Park in Boston at 4 a.m. to resolve once and for all if he has any latent homosexual tendencies (it turns out he doesn’t). That makes for a great stand-up story, but it also indicates an uncommon fearlessness.
“I feel like life is finite. What feels right is to explore and to challenge and the truth lies right up against crossing lines into danger and asking the questions that no one else is asking,” he says.
“The only way you can get to the truth is to peel away all the pretence, and I think the same things go sexually. How do you know you’re not gay? Every time you hear about these anti-gay people you hear six months later they were (****) someone in a van. Of all the issues you could put your energy behind, why this?”
The suspicion that there’s a gap between what people say and do is a very Irish awareness. Like his friend and fellow standup Sarah Silverman, Fitzsimmons feels both the Irish and the Jews share an underground voice that’s different to the one that’s presented to the world.
“The reason why the first comedians here were Jewish is because they came to this country and no one would hire them. Stand-up comedian was one of the lowest, most looked upon things you could do,” he says.
“The Marx Brother were saying f*** you. The Irish share a similar story but their comedy comes much more out of storytelling. But there’s an understanding between them both culturally and experience wise in this country.”
Asked what he wants people to know about his memoir Fitzsimmons deadpans instantly, “It could have been better.”
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