Darrell Hammond is best known as the SNL cast member with the longest run (14 seasons). What is less known is that for decades he has battled mental illness as well as alcohol and drug addictions. In his memoir, God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked, Mr. Hammond takes us through the parallel histories of his demons and his career in comedy.
I finished this book this morning and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m not sure that I’m going to have a firm decision about this book so I’m forging ahead. I know that I don’t feel it was as successful as American On Purpose by Craig Ferguson. The lows were by far lower and told with just as much honesty. But… there’s a but. The non-linear storytelling which I was happy to praise in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, in this case it just doesn’t accomplish the same goals.
Hammond attempts to tell us the story of his abuse at the hands of his mother and a former soldier father who was more often than not checked-out and how that affected his adulthood in Florida and later in New York as he remembered it while going through therapy and several rehabs. The problem with telling us the story of his flashbacks as he experienced them while also stepping away from it in other chapters to basically do a laundry list of the celebrities, sport starts, and politicians he encountered while being a working comic both pre and post SNL is that there lacks an overarching structure to this work.
What Hammond does right in this work is lay it all out, with nothing left in the shadows any longer. Jail, rehab, and alcoholism, run-ins with the mob, trauma, and a night in a crack house – it’s all there and honestly told. This is a man still in the fight for his life and the ability to be the type of father he wants to be for his daughter which his own parents were not for him. I wish his luck.