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I'd Rather Laugh: How to be happy even when life has other plans for you    by Linda Richman order for
I'd Rather Laugh
by Linda Richman
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

While listening to this audiobook, I could not help making occasional comparisons between it and another I audited not long ago, Cancer Schmancer by Fran Dressler. The two have a number of similarities. In both cases the author is beaten down by a succession of tragic events, and hauls herself back up by her own bootstraps. And sometimes Fran Dressler, and loudly and frequently Linda Richman, is raucous enough to set my teeth on edge. Oh, and one more similarity. Fran Dressler may have played herself in her T.V. role as The Nanny, (or was it vice-versa?) and Linda Richmond may have reinvented herself based on her son-in-law Mike Myers' comic caricatures of her in Saturday Night Live. She obviously relished them.

The final and defining tragedies of Linda Richman's life were the sudden death of her 29 year-old son in a car crash, and a few days later the lapse into coma, and subsequent death of her mother. Though her mother had long been dysfunctional and institutionalised, the two deaths triggered a long search for quick spiritual fixes for her uncontrollable grieving. She had just begun to emerge from an earlier trauma. Her father died when she was eight years old, and her mother began the long slide into depression. Her lawyer husband became an addictive gambler, and she herself became a victim of agoraphobia, not leaving her house for eleven years.

Some of Linda Richman's attempted remedies are hilarious, particularly her two day 'Pity Party'. I was also very much amused by her account of trying to find solace in a synagogue, and after being rejected, finding it in a Baptist church. Her ecumenism is also shown by her baptisms in the River Jordan. She was finally successful in fully recovering, probably much more due to her own efforts than those of her multitude of psychotherapists, and now lectures on her own account at the ritzy Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Arizona.

The author's recipe can be condensed into a sentence. Cry when you have to, but otherwise laugh at everything in this silly world especially yourself, and above all have faith that you will endure and will get better. Incidentally, Rosie O'Donnell is a good friend of hers. Need I say more?

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