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Billy Crystal sells jokey book on aging for $4 million. Really?

August 10, 2012|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Billy Crystal, hosting the 84th Annual Academy Awards, serenades director Martin Scorsese.
Billy Crystal, hosting the 84th Annual Academy Awards, serenades director… (Robert Gauthier )

Billy Crystal has sold a joking book on aging to Henry Holt and Co., according to the Hollywood Reporter, for which he was paid $4 million. And just think: with that money, he can buy more than 75,000 jumbo packs of Depends.

True, that's not much of a joke. But Crystal's humor, of late, hardly seems worth $4 million. The comedian, actor and one-time "Saturday Night Live" cast member was most recently in the spotlight as the host of the 2012 Academy Awards.

"Billy Crystal, hosting his ninth Oscar show (his first was in 1990, his most recent was in 2004), seemed to be overseeing a cruise ship dinner show designed to appeal to the over-50 travel club. Early on, it hit the rocks and started to list," wrote Hank Stuever in the Washington Post. "Almost everyone drowned."

Stuever pointed to Crystal's "ba-da-dum gags" and creakily old-style musical medley as giving the show a "nursing home feel."

David Zurawik wrote in the Baltimore Sun: “I used to like Crystal. I really did. But by the time he made an empty joke about J. Edgar Hoover ‘in heels’ that drew no laughs and then said how funny the band thought it was in rehearsals, I wondered if this wasn’t some sort of cosmic time-warp punishment throwing us back to a Las Vegas lounge act 50 years ago — God’s way of telling us how vapid, lifeless and non-creative Hollywood and our popular culture had become in the dark years of 2011 and 2012.”

Sure, Crystal has sold a humor book on aging, but there's a difference between being funny about being old and old jokes. Even the Hollywood Reporter, which says a source calls the book "hilarious," notes, "Not all this material is new: Crystal's been telling age jokes ever since he got to middle age."

The book, whose title has not yet been announced, is scheduled to be released around March 14, 2013, when Crystal will turn 65.

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