Onetime stand-up comic channels his life
experience and misadventures into autobiography
Nichols’ autobiography, “Trainwreck: My Life as an Idoit,” [the
misspelling is intentional] could be a surefire cure for depression --
once you start reading about his misadventures, you’ll think, “gee, at
least I’m not that much of a screw-up.”
A onetime stand-up comic, Nichols labored through his formative years
with learning disabilities, ADD, mild Tourette’s and rampant drug and
alcohol abuse. How bad did it get? At one point, he fell asleep in his
parents’ vacation home after turning on a space heater, proceeding to
accidentally burn down the entire property.
That kind of sums up a lot of Nichols’ errant behavior. All of this
is told, unsparingly, in “Trainwreck.” But in the telling, Nichols does
make it all entertaining somehow, mainly out of self-aware
self-deprecation. Moreover, his brisk prose and short entertainingly
titled chapters keep one turning the pages out of curiosity about what
rude outrage Nichols will commit next.
Even with that brevity, Nichols’ writing also has a
stream-of-consciousness quality, befitting his mindset, that carries the
reader along. He does tend to jump around between phases of his life,
from stories about his high school and college years, to woeful
incompetence as a sailor and commercial fisherman, as well as bombing as
a stand-up comic.
But somehow, it all feels like pieces of a coherent whole. Slowly but
surely, entertaining all the way, we do see that Nichols is finding his
way out of these messes of his own making. And by the end, readers will
be surprised to see that despite all of this, Nichols has become a
responsible, functioning adult. Kind of gives some hope to those of us
who weren’t as bad off to start with.