What began as a rib-bruising exercise for audiences in Los Angeles and New York finally hits The Buckhead Theatre Saturday night. “Celebrity Autobiography” was first created by writer-performer Eugene Pack in Los Angeles after he asked some comedian friends to select excerpts from their favorite unintentionally hilarious celebrity memoirs to read onstage.
Now, a national tour combining comics and the celebrity tomes is terrorizing the country. The ensemble set for Atlanta includes “30 Rock” actor Scott Adsit, former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Tim Kazurinsky and even ex-“Beverly Hills 90210” actor Luke Perry.
In an interview with Intel Wednesday, Adsit explained that choosing the right self-absorbed celeb memoir is crucial. Two years ago and 50 “Celebrity Autobiography” performances ago, Adsit first cut his tell-all teeth on the saccharine-sweet “The Unimaginable Life: Lessons Learned on the Path of Love” by Kenny Loggins and his wife Julia.
“It’s sort of the ‘Celebrity Autobiography’ primer,” said Adsit. “The book has training wheels on it. They want to see what you’re made of. The new guy routinely gets the Kenny Loggins book.”
After performing a mean Kenny Loggins (“Actually, I don’t know if there is such a thing as a mean Kenny Loggins,” Adsit quipped. “There’s a love letter to his wife in the book. Which is sweet. If you’re Kenny Loggins.”), Adsit has moved on to the meatier “Don’t Hassle the Hoff” by David Hasselhoff. A book, that among other things, thematically explores the excruciating temperature of the sand while shooting “Baywatch.”
“Pretty much everything in the show is fool-proof,” Adsit explained. “All you have to do is read it and it’s hilarious.” Of course, the success of “Celebrity Autobiography” hinges on the sad truth that, aside from a few fascinating stories that initially got the famous person the book deal, most celeb memoirs do not contain a tantalizing through-line for readers.
“I mean, I’m sure [former “Good Morning America” co-anchor] Joan Lunden is a very nice person,” said Adsit. “But there’s a section of her book that deals with her morning ritual of getting dressed. Because celebrities strike a deal with publishers where they have to write a set number of pages, the reader ends up with Neil Sedaka chronicling what’s in his fridge. Neil Sedaka.”
Of the audience favorite “Vanna Speaks!,” the 1987 memoir of “Wheel of Fortune” letter-turner Vanna White, Adsit advised: “You just have to let the words wash over you, like memoir Muzak. I’m certain that Vanna White had a fascinating upbringing but all the reader wants to know is what it’s like to turn those letters and about that time she almost tripped. Oh, and the horror of losing an earring.”
Selecting the right “Celebrity Autobiography” material to perform is also crucial. For example, Adsit’s suggestion of adding German actor Klaus Kinski’s often maniacal memoir “All I Need is Love” was quickly vetoed by the “Celebrity Autobiography” creative team.
“The truth is, he’s too obscure and the book is just too bizarre and terrifying,” he said. “Well, unless you’re Klaus Kinski.”
“Celebrity Autobiography” hits the stage Saturday night at 7:30 at the Buckhead Theatre (formerly The Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre). For tickets, go to Ticketmaster’s website.