Robert Klein, the man behind the great comedy CD Child of the 50`s and the more recent HBO special A Child In His Fifties delivers an autobiography that could certainly have used the humorous spirit behind that CD and that show. There are a few funny lines in this book, one of them being "the family Wallenda has exhibited certain lemming-like tendencies and has diminished considerably in size over the years" but they are, unfortunately, few and far between. The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue is basically a story of Klein dreaming of shtupping, planning to get shtupped, shtupping, and getting shtupped.
There are some interesting passages about growing up in a Jewish family in New York City and going to college in the fifties but very little is done with the material. In many ways this could have been the story of any guy of the area and the period with a Jewish mother. Tales of Klein's years at Alfred College or the Yale Drama School pale in comparison to what Lewis Black did with the same topic and Stephen King give a better tale in Hearts in Atlantis. Perhaps this is because Klein went to college in the late fifties and his most formative years were in the very early sixties and nothing happened politically or socially during these formative years, but it is hard to believe this is so. The chapter bout his working in the Catskills during the waning days of the Borscht Belt are interesting but again nothing anybody else could not have done and this is what bothers this reader. There are a few moments of political and social awareness when he writes about his fraternity days but, again, shtupping seemed to be the pinnacle of his concerns.
The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue gets somewhat more interesting in the last few chapters where Robert Klein starts writing about his first experiences as a stand-up comic and his days at Chicago's Second City Theatre with other comics like David Steinberg and Fred Willard. Passages about his many encounters with the late Rodney Dangerfield and his first experiences as a stand-up on various TV shows are also interesting. Unfortunately, the humor is thin and you get the feeling Klein has held back all the good stuff for his next book (don't count your chickens before they are hatched).
Other Robert Klein Reviews
Child Of The 50's: charming stand-up comedy CD
Unfair & Unbalanced: Unoriginal & Unfunny