God, If You're Not Up There
Darrell Hammond, God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked: Tales of Stand-up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-altering Mayhem (New York: HarperCollins, 2011)
I picked up Darrell Hammond’s book for a different reason than to find out about popular culture or to read “forbidden” words. I have a deep interest in learning about and trying to understand the dynamics of mental illness. Hammond has been engaged in a life-long struggle with mis-diagnosed and sometimes accurately diagnosed psychiatric illness. The result is that he has had a lifetime of incredibly strong psycho pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol abuse, the abuse of dozens of illegal drugs, cutting himself and inner turmoil. In the midst of all of this he was somehow able to achieve brilliance as a performer and bring joy to millions through his acting and impersonations. He played many famous persons, but is perhaps best known for his portrayal of President Bill Clinton on Saturday Night Live and at numerous national press events and other occasions.
Reading the book made me realize how much pain he had to cut through to do his work.
It is a difficult book to read. But It is worth it because it gives an accurate account of one man’s perspective on his experiences. No child should have to suffer the trauma that Hammond experienced. But the past cannot be erased. Having been dealt an outrageously difficult hand from the beginning somehow Hammond has slogged through, survived, and triumphed. The struggles are not over, but I am deeply grateful he worked through all of the challenges to produce a book that helps me better understand.