• Wild and Crazy Guys

  • How the Comedy Mavericks of the '80s Changed Hollywood Forever
  • By: Nick de Semlyen
  • Narrated by: Curtis Armstrong
  • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (565 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The behind-the-scenes story of the iconic funnymen who ruled '80s Hollywood - Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Eddie Murphy - and the beloved films that made them stars, including Animal House, Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters 

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NEW YORK

“An enjoyable romp that vividly captures the manic ups and downs of the remarkable group of funny folk who gave us a golden age of small and big screen comedy, from SNL to Groundhog Day.” (Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls) 

Wild and Crazy Guys opens in 1978 with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray taking bad-tempered swings at each other backstage at Saturday Night Live, and closes 21 years later with the two doing a skit in the same venue, poking fun at each other, their illustrious careers, triumphs and prat falls. In between, Nick de Semlyen takes us on a trip through the tumultuous '80s, delving behind the scenes of movies such as National Lampoon's Vacation, Beverly Hills Cop, The Blues Brothers, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and dozens more. Chronicling the off-screen, larger-than-life antics of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, John Belushi, John Candy, and Rick Moranis, it's got drugs, sex, punch-ups, webbed toes, and Bill Murray being pushed into a swimming pool by Hunter S. Thompson while tied to a lawn chair. What's not to like? 

Based on candid interviews from many of the stars themselves, as well as those in their immediate orbit, including directors John Landis, Carl Reiner, and Amy Heckerling, Wild and Crazy Guys is a fantastic insider account of the friendships, feuds, triumphs, and disasters experienced by these beloved comedians. Hilarious and revealing, it is both a hidden history of the most fertile period ever for screen comedy and a celebration of some of the most popular films of all time.  

Praise for Wild and Crazy Guys

“Eminently readable . . . Children of the 1980s, take note: this is a fond, engrossing look back at the making of movies that became cultural touchstones.” (Booklist, starred review) 

“Nick de Semlyen smartly charts the pinballing career paths of the stars of this new comic wave. . . . His punchy, nonstop narrative . . . tells a [story] where art and commerce smash hard against each other, sometimes causing destruction, but sometimes making sparks fly.” (The Sunday Times (UK)) 

©2019 Nick de Semlyen (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“An enjoyable romp that vividly captures the manic ups and downs of the remarkable group of funny folk who gave us a golden age of small and big screen comedy, from SNL to Groundhog Day.” (Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

“Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy - they’re all here like you’ve never seen them before (with no shortage of drugs, competitiveness, and egos). Fast-paced and addictive, Wild and Crazy Guys is the Easy Riders, Raging Bulls of the wild and crazy ‘80s Hollywood comedy scene.” (Chris Nashawaty, author of Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story

“It's amazing that anybody survived making comedies in the impulsive, excessive, drug-fueled, rage-filled period in the decade following the explosive arrival of Saturday Night Live. And some didn't. But, aided by the sharp recollections of those who did, Nick de Semlyen gives that more-is-more period of comedy what it desperately needs: Clarity and perspective. Wild and Crazy Guys maps the era and its swaggering players beautifully.” (Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back

"Offering colorful film backstories and insightful portraits...de Semlyen’s enjoyable [and] welcome flashback reminds us why [these comedians’] very names still bring a smile to our faces.” (Associated Press)

What listeners say about Wild and Crazy Guys

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Side-Alley Stroll Down Memory Lane of SNL/SCTV Comedians

I saw this book listed as a recommendation on a website. It had me at “dives into 70s/80s comedy movies”. This is a book version of the shows that take a look at “the toys/commercials/movies that made us.” I grew up in the 70s and 80s so the subject matter is truly a stroll down memory lane...more like forays into the little side-alleys spoking off the lane. I love it. This really is about the major male comedians from SNL and SCTV. The book even mentions women on those shows didn’t get the big movie vehicles like their male counterparts did. You won’t hear much if anything about Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain, or Catherine O’Hara. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis,John Belushi, Steve Martin, John Candy and Eddie Murphy are woven throughout as the book walks somewhat chronologically through their blockbusters and flops. Curtis Armstrong is a FANTASTIC narrator who reads naturally and delivers the funnier lines subtly and perfectly...Having him narrate was a master move. There is something surreal about hearing Booger Dawson talk about the movies of that era, with his signature sharply enunciated t’s.

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Delivers what you’d expect

It’s exactly what you’d hope for - a behind-the-scenes look at the best comedians of the 70s and 80s👍

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Good, overall

Like the content, but, unlike everyone else, I found the narrator a little grating at times. He over-enunciates to an extreme. It makes it understandable, which is good, but it calls too much attention to the narrator at the expense of living in the story. Every time he says “Steve Mar-tin”, I want to shake him and say, “no one pronounces the T so demonstrably... just say ‘Mart’n”.
But I recognize I am, apparently, in the minority on this.
Still, it’s a good book.
I just wish he narrated more like a human.

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More Curtis Armstrong

This is a great book. I love how it goes by film. I grew up in the 80s and this book really lifts the curtain on what happened behind the scenes to make or break these movies. But the thing I like the best is the narrator. Having heard him do this book, I would pretty much listen to any book that Curtis Armstrong reads from now on. Being funny in his own right, he brings a lot to this book, but I think he would be great in any book, especially if it had a little bit of humor. He would be great in any Carl Hiaasen novel, for example. I hope he does more books.

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  • VB
  • 09-24-20

sad that this book had to end

I loved listening to this, from the moment I heard Curtis' voice as narrator (apt choice) to the very end, which made me cry. I won't give it away. If you're a fan of even one of these guys, it's worth a listen. My ONLY criticism of the author is that Gilda Radner and other supreme (female) comediennes were not included. Perhaps there's a second book coming out about them.

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Early Saturday Night Live Performers' Lives

Just as the title says, this story is about the wild and crazy guys of the early Saturday Night Live days. Each person had a different approach to his career, but several of them were leading really fast lives. Hearing about the things that almost happened was just as interesting as hearing about the things that DID happen. If you lived through the era when John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, John Candy, and Rick Moranis were big, you'll likely enjoy this story. I was in high school and college during their hey days and found their humor to be hilarious... their lives were NOT so hilarious, apparently, but much of that had to do with living in the fast lane. Anyway, it's really interesting and the type of audio book I'll listen to again, for sure.

The narrator is TERRIFIC - his delivery of the material adds A LOT to it!

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Terrible research and writing

The author gets so many basic facts wrong I wonder if he’s even done cursory research. He spoke to none of the principles. And he tries to write jokes about much funnier people. Sad. Booger does a good job reading, though.

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Hilariously Insightful

I’ve listened to this book 5 times now. Nick de Semlyen sheds wonderful light on the comedy giants of the 80’s and the many wonders and tragedies behind the scenes of some of their films. All in all, a highly insightful and entertaining read, especially for film buffs. I’d give 6 stars if I could.

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A great book about some funny guys

This is a highly entertaining book about the men who made most of the best comedy movies from the late 70s through the 80s. It focuses on John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and John Candy. It traces the careers of each with some behind the scenes stuff about all of the major movies of each. For the bulk of the period covered I was going to the movies literally multiple times a week, so the book brings back a lot of memories to me. This book made several best of the year lists when it came out and it’s easy to see why. I do have two minor complaints. First, when describing Christmas Vacation the author mentioned “Uncle Eddie” twice. Everyone who has seen the movie more than once knows it’s Cousin Eddie. Not that big of a deal, but when I see such a glaring mistake it does make me question some of the rest of the content. The second issue was that the author constantly referred to box office numbers to show whether a movie was a hit or flop. Well, the numbers for hits in the late 70s are about the same as flops in the late 80s. Box office rankings mean more than raw numbers. These are very minor issues with a very good book.

The reader is Curtis Armstrong. If you are a child of the 80s you remember him as Booger from Revenge Of The Nerds. He was absolutely perfect for this book and enhanced the experience greatly.

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Awesome.

I am a very picky reader, so you can trust that this is an honest review. This book is so fantastic. I am in my early forties and this book tickles my funny bones with nostalgia. I found myself upset when it ended. I feel like a demanding child inside that is screaming, "more, more, more!" Just awesome.
Curtis Armstrong is one of the absolute best narrators that audible has to offer. Get this guy on more books! <sidenote: Curtis' own autobiography is excellent>

1 person found this helpful

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