Ultimate guest star shares his adventures in acting
If you watched sitcoms in the 1990s or some of the newer ones on TV Land, then you've seen Fred Stoller.
You might not remember that you've seen him, or you might have thought it was Ray Romano, whom he looks a lot like. Stoller has had recurring, funny roles on some of the biggest shows of all time, from "Friends" to "Seinfeld" to "Mad About You." He even won an Austin Film Festival Award in 2011 for his movie "Fred and Vinnie."
And still, he's not a household name.
That's the point of his new memoir, "Maybe We'll Have you Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star," in which he chronicles just about every guest appearance he had on various sitcoms throughout his career.
This is the perfect book for anyone interested in TV shows and acting or in how the world of being a paid actor works.
Stoller doesn't "bare all" — it doesn't seem like he has a grudge against anyone or is blaming anyone for his plight. He's just sharing his story as a guy who has worked on more than 70 shows and movies, including "Dumb and Dumber."
He started as a stand-up comedian as many aspiring actors do, which is how he begins his book — although his first chapter starts out strong with his story of how he played a dopey waiter working with Monica on "Friends." He name drops throughout the book, but these are the interesting tidbits, explaining what Lisa Kudrow or Matthew LeBlanc said to him, for example.
He had a writing gig on "Seinfeld" for a while as well as playing a character on the show as a guy that could never remember Elaine. He explains how he went to auditions on various shows and for different roles, which is interesting to read about if you ever wonder how the casting of sitcoms works.
Other roles he discusses in the book are a dog walker on "Mad About You" and as Ray's cousin on "Everybody Loves Raymond." He shares insights and emotions about working on the set of each show — and he also writes a lot about the food served at the craft services tables.
The book isn't as funny as expected since Stoller is a comedian and works on a lot of comedy shows, but there are a few humorous lines and parts. It's mostly a chronology of Stoller's life with some insight into working for TV shows and trying to get a big break.
One of the most interesting sections of the book are the photos that he included in the middle, from when he was a teenager to doing stand-up in 1979 to being on the set of "Dumb and Dumber" to standing between Selena Gomez and Jennifer Stone on the cast of Wizards of Waverly Place.
His book ends with a story about his elderly parents living in Florida, and he realizes his mom is proud of his career, even though he's never been cast as a main character in a sitcom. But he is still hopeful for a bright future as an actor.
If you are looking for a light read this fall, try "Maybe We'll Have You Back."
Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (http://margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.