Cover Image: It Never Ends

It Never Ends

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Member Reviews

A lot of the best comedy comes from darkness. For many of our funniest, the shadows are where they find the biggest laughs. As it turns out, one can mine a lot of jokes from battling with one’s demons.

Comedy connoisseurs are certainly aware of Tom Scharpling. He’s likely best known as the creator of the beloved long-running radio show-turned-podcast “The Best Show,” where he and his partner Jon Wurster have spent some two decades crafting a bizarre and absurdist call-in program that is probably one of your favorite comedian’s favorite things.

And now, he’s written a memoir.

“It Never Ends: A Memoir with Nice Memories!” gives readers a window into who Scharpling really is. It’s an exploration of a troubled past rendered with self-deprecating frankness, walking us along the path that brought him to his current place. There’s an earnestness to it all, despite the constant self-awareness – an unwavering honesty, even in the face of clear misgivings about sharing these stories in their entirety.

Oh, and it is also wildly funny. At the drop of a hat, Scharpling can pivot from a heartfelt expression of vulnerability to a weird and hilarious aside. It’s a book that keeps the reader constantly off-balance, much like Scharpling’s comedy; ordinarily, that isn’t an ideal way to construct a book, particularly a memoir, but here, it’s the perfect choice.

One could argue that “It Never Ends” is framed by Scharpling’s revelation about his lifelong struggle with mental illness. That story – from his youthful issues with depression to his treatment via electroshock therapy to his ongoing battles against the darkness throughout his adulthood – is one that he confesses up front to never having really shared before. There’s a nakedness to it, a leap-before-looking energy wherein it seems that he almost can’t believe he’s telling us all of this even as he’s telling us all of this.

However, while there is a confessional vibe to this – and it serves as a through-thread for the entire book – it cannot be stressed enough that while Scharpling talks about his fight with depression, there is nothing depressing about “It Never Ends.”

We learn about how he got his start as a creative, writing for punk zines and covering the NBA for various outlets. And of course, we’re given insight into the evolution of “The Best Show,” from the origins of his relationship with partner-in-crime (and noted rock drummer) Wurster to the struggles that came with putting so much work into something for which he wasn’t being paid – the show was on a community radio station for years – to the show’s move into the podcasting realm (though one could argue that Scharpling was basically podcasting before that was even a thing).

There are delightful digressions throughout, where Scharpling veers off from the core story of his life to delve into details that could have been throwaways, but instead serve as wonderfully weird vignettes that illustrate perfectly just what kind of guy he is.

There’s the part where he talks about auditioning to be part of the ill-fated MTV program “The New Monkees” – you kids probably won’t remember that one, but those of us of a certain age absolutely do. He talks about his stretch as a writer on the TV show “Monk” – a personal favorite, by the way – and shares his regrets that he can’t talk trash about it because apparently the show’s star Tony Shaloub is a genuinely delightful person. Branded slot machines, Billy Joel disdain, claiming Bugs Bunny for both Jews and Italians … like I said, wonderfully weird.

Probably my favorite of all of these is the one where he talks about the period where he was obsessed with coin-pusher machines – you know the ones, where a moving platform contains coins and other prizes and you drop quarters in to try and cause stuff to drop. If you’ve ever been on a boardwalk or at a ticket-based arcade, you’ve seen them. The richness of his descriptions – of his own behaviors, of the machines and the other people who share his fascination – paints a bizarre and entertaining picture.

“It Never Ends” is the story of an outsider who found his way in – kind of. Someone like Tom Scharpling, with that sort of unique and unapologetic sensibility, was never going to be fully embraced in a mainstream way. And that’s OK – he certainly doesn’t seem to mind. Because while he has had a fair amount of what we traditionally think of as success, it has almost always been on his own terms.

“It Never Ends” does eventually end, but it’s the kind of book where you almost wish it didn’t.
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My thanks to NetGalley and Abrams Press for an advanced copy of this comedy memoir. 

I am relatively new convert to Tom Scharpling and his works, but his new memoir, It Never Ends: A Memoir with Nice Memories!, has made me a fan. I expected the funny, but not the honesty, about himself, his life, his memories and memory, and the unusual ups and downs that seem to happen. I know many comics use the bad things in their lives to make their comedy, but Mr. Scharpling has used his pain and troubles and literally created a new life for himself.

The book is pretty unflinching about his youth and mental problems which is of course sad, and troubling and quite similar to a lot of readers, maybe not to the extremes. There is also a feeling of well not hope, more of a can-do spirit that fills the book. Yes this and this happened, and it messed me up, yes this might affect me for the rest of my life, but I'm still going to try and work and make something out of this. As he does. As I said recreating himself, finding and working with talented people who befriended him, or mentored him, or pushed him to find others like him to help create the popular radio show, the Best Show. And at the end of the book you are glad that he succeeds because he more than deserves it. 

Funny, honest, with great stories and sad tales. Personally I really enjoyed the chapter where he discussed his music zine, I miss zines, and the bands that he name checked that were all awesome. I learned a lot and laughed  even more. I'm glad Mr Scharpling made it, not for the entertainment he provides, or as an inspiration for those with depressing and evil inner voices, but for his own sake, because he seems like a very good man.
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If you're a fan of Tom Scharpling's hilarious "The Best Show" radio program, you can rest assured that this book is plenty funny. What readers won't have counted on is he gives a history of his mental problems that led him to undergo ECT during his teens. Scharpling handles these issues with great sensitivity while never committing the comedian's dreaded crime of becoming maudlin. 

He has taken some hard-earned lessons and impart s real wisdom to his readers. There was a line towards the end that really struck a chord with me, "We live lives filled with sadness and embarrassment because we simply don't realize that we are not alone." 

Fantastic book. Okay, fine, maybe the section detailing playing pinball on the Jersey shore goes on a couple pages too long, but hey, it's a minor quibble.

Netgalley provided me with a free e-galley in return for this review. Oh and Mr. Scharpling provided me with a cool $20,000 in return for the five stars. What a guy!
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The vulnerability Scharpling exposes is extraordinary. As a FOT I enjoy his wit, humor like anyone else. This captivated me in a rare way.
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As a major fan of Tom Scharpling's work, I knew this book would be funny. What I did not know was how raw, vulnerable and emotionally poignant it would be, especially in regards to mental health issues.  It's both hilarious and revealing and I loved it.
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Thanks to Abrams and the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book before its publication. 

I'm a huge fan of Tom Scharpling's work but when I heard that he was writing a book I admit to wondering how he would pull it off. Well, like anyone else who ever second-guessed Scharpling, I could not have been more wrong. He gives us more depth than any of us could have expected, and somehow does it all while retaining the voice of the funniest human on the planet. No matter how much I enjoy a book I'm usually happy to finish it, but I found myself dragging this one out because I didn't want it to be over. I will definitely make sure that my library has a copy but I'll be buying one for myself as well. 

I don't think you need to go into this book a fan in order to appreciate its power, humor and wisdom. Highly recommended.
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I like to read about people who strive to fulfill their dreams.
Tom Scharpling, a very funny man, wanted to be a writer. And not any kind but a comedy writer.
He achieves his goal, despite many adversities in the journey. 
IT NEVER ENDS, is a well-written memoir, with lots of humor, sadness, and triumph. Despite a few bumps along the way, Tom does eventually gets his talk show and becomes a very popular character in the New Jersey area..
I enjoyed the book though I struggled to get through a few chapters where he mentions the pinball machines and video games. I 
 I will recommend the book to all nonfiction lovers and fans of Tom.

Thanks to Tom Scharpling, Netgalley and Abram's Press for the chance to read the ARC.
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This is a brilliant book. Mr Scharpling, as always, is able to wade through the darkest waters of humanity while remaining accessible and helpful to ordinary people. Will purchase the day this is released.
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As a card carrying FOT (Friend of Tom) I was anxiously awaiting the publication of this book. I was so happy that Netgalley gave me the opportunity to read it early and provide feedback. Even as someone already in the bag for Tom, I was blown away by his story!

I knew from the description that this memoir would be more than just fluff and funny bits from the Best Show, but I didn't realize how DEEP Tom would go. My goodness! Tom has always been an inspiration for working class creatives, but his struggles make what he's done even more impressive. It's great to get a better insight into someone I've listen to for hundreds of hours. 

It's heavy, but it's also FUNNY. So don't be scared off by the seriousness, it makes the yuks more satisfying and cathartic. Recommended for FOTs and newbies. 

We get it, they don't!
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As a dyed-it-the-wool Friend Of Tom, I was looking forward to this book from the moment it was announced, but I don't think I was quite prepared for how deep Tom Scharpling was willing to go on himself and his past, details of which have been all but nonexistent prior to this book being written. Some of it was genuinely shocking, and it doesn't so much join the dots about one of the funniest people on the planet as draw an entirely new picture. The tone is 10000% Tom - it's all easily heard in his voice as you read it - while still reading like it isn't just his Best Show persona doing the typing. Utterly surpassed all my expectations in every conceivable way.
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I must start this review by revealing a heavy bias: I've been a listener and follower of Tom for 15+ years. He sent me a care package when I was in the hospital with cancer without even knowing who I was. I've met him a few times since and he's been one of the kindest people I've met.

Like Tom the person, Tom the memoirist is kind, funny, self-deprecating, and captivating. Rhe tragicomic story of his life in It Never Ends is inspiring and revealing in ways that Tom the radio host only hinted at over the years. Like his work in entertainment, Tom is funny at times but serious when need be, all while landing softly with a comforting, self-aware quip or experience to cushion the blow.

It Never Ends fits right in line with the great, vulnerable memoirs from entertainers in recent years (like The Right Stuff by Wayne Kramer). It is a non-linear hike through Tom's personal history, one that any fan of Tom's work and/or brand of humor would greatly enjoy. Would it be lost on those who don't know who Tom Scharpling is? Perhaps, but such is the nature of memoirs from those in entertainment. 

Then again, we get it. They don't.

Thanks to Abrams for the ARC.
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