700 Sundays are not a lot for a boy to have with his father. Yet that is how many Sundays Billy Crystal had with his. Billy tells us the story of his life through the lens of the Sundays he had with his dad. Jack, Billy’s dad, managed the Commodore Music Shop on 42nd Street between Lexington and Third in New York City. On Friday and Saturday nights, Jack produced free jazz concerts. So Sundays were the day Billy spent with his dad.
For me, one of the best parts is where Billy talks about his two families. One of the families, his biological one, was Jewish. As Billy says, “The kind of people who spoke mostly Yiddish, which is a combination of German and phlegm.” His other family came through his dad’s jazz connections. I’ll let Billy tell you about them:
“When I was growing up, we had this whole other group that was living with us. An extended family. This group was not speaking Yiddish….This group was speaking jive talk. They were speaking hip talk. They were smoking cigarettes with no writing on them. They were jazz musicians, mostly African-American and some of the greatest players in the world. It was Jews and jazz forever.”
Now, this book (and DVD) is not just an autobiography. It is far too entertaining and hilarious for that. On the other hand, it is not just a comedy routine. It is far too warm and clever for that. Somehow, and this is Billy’s genius, he has combined the two and come away with something truly stupendous. It is moving and poignant, while being comical and witty. Billy Crystal has had a pretty amazing life. Whether you read the book, watch the DVD, or both; you are in for the ride of your life.