Darrell Hammond, formerly of “Saturday Night Live” (where he perfected his smarmy Bill Clinton impression), has been promoting his memoir on lots of media outlets. God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*ed recounts his story of depression and drug addiction and eventually gets around to the trauma that started it all–horrendous abuse from his mentally ill mother and the neglect of his alcoholic father.
Hammond’s book supports the thesis put forward by Merrill Markoe in her memoir that funny people frequently have crazy moms. A sense of irony develops when your mom hits you with a hammer and sticks your fingers in the light socket. Humor, along with drugs and alcohol, is a survival mechanism.
Hammond never explicitly diagnoses his mom, who seems more sociopathic than borderline. He surmises that she, too, was abused, and this helps him feel a little bit forgiving, though this process, understandably, will take a little while.
I liked Hammond’s book, though much of it was painful to read. He’s also a little crude for me, a little too reliant (a la recent SNL) on sexual and bathroom humor. His story is a bracing example of how little you can judge people from the outside. When he was stepping on stage to entertain us, he frequently had just chugged a drink or even cut himself, in weird and desperate attempts to calm himself.