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Lady Parts by Andrea Martin: I know she probably gets sick of hearing about Aunt Voula but I really loved her as Aunt Voula



When I saw that Andrea Martin -- SCTV alum and, more importantly, Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding -- had written a book, I immediately badgered HarperCollins about getting a copy to review and they very GRACIOUSLY responded yes. So I read her book Lady Parts, and y'know what, I'm glad I did.

SCTV was an early sketch comedy show in Canada. The cast included awesome people you've laughed at like Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara, Rick Moranis, and John Candy. Andrea Martin was part of this cast, and while I, y'know, haven't really watched SCTV, I am GRATEFUL to it for all the people it bestowed unto my television.

...they were on a lot of drugs in the '70s

Andrea Martin's a character actress, and a hilarious one. Aunt Voula is CLEARLY the best part of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and has the only lines anyone quotes from it anymore ("What do you mean he don't eat meat?...oh, that's okay. I make lamb!"), including the amazing monologue about her twin. When they announced a million years ago that they were going to make a My Big Fat Greek Wedding TV show and that Andrea Martin was going to be in it, I said "Okay I will watch this." It lasted seven episodes.

When describing the kind of work she gets, she says:
I don't play the romantic lead who gets to make out with Ryan Gosling. I'm the housekeeper who walks in on them, does a spit take, trips over Mr. Gosling's underwear, and crawls on all fours out the door.
Somebody's gotta do it.

As character actresses do, Andrea Martin's had an extremely varied career. She's won two Tonys, been on a ridiculous number of TV shows, done improv, cabaret, and played Quark's mother on DS9. Her book is a collection of pretty unconnected essays talking about aspects of her life that are mostly not about performing. Stints in the hospital, biannual trips to a spa in California, raising her two sons, having everyone assume she's Canadian when she is in fact from Maine. Her Armenianism. 

What I enjoyed about it was there was a lot of glancing information about what it's like to be a minor celebrity. You get stories like this:
In 1986, when my sons were three and five, we moved from Toronto to Los Angeles. I enrolled them in a small private school that Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman sent their kids to. This only added to my anxiety. I would study Ms. Streep as she waved goodbye to her kids when she dropped them off in the morning, and feel that my goodbyes paled in comparison. Her goodbyes were were the goodbyes of a real mother, so heartfelt, so honest, so underplayed. My goodbyes were empty, desperate, over the top. "Mommy loves you...MOMMY LOVES YOU."
She discusses why she flies to Atlanta to get her hair cut, and when she was done, I thought it made sense. She brings up the excellent point that "[s]omebody has to talk about skin tags." And she makes you want to watch SCTV clips on YouTube (which I did. A lot).

When she was in the hospital about to undergo a dangerous procedure, she wrote an email to her group of mostly gay male friends (plus Debra Monk), which she prints in full. This is my favorite part:

My dear BFF, my angel, Deb Monk, has been by my side from the moment I entered the hospital. Last night when I got the results of the MRI, I was distraught and scared and crying. Deb, in the most compassionate manner, held my hand and whispered, "I'm cancelling everything tomorrow to be with you." Snapping out of my distress, I said competitively, "What the hell do you have planned for tomorrow?" She then showed me her calendar, and sure enough, she is going to cancel her walk.

It's a good mix of funny and sincere, although definitely bordering much more on the sincere side, which usually makes me uncomfortable BUT I AM TRYING. This particular memoir feels more like something you can take life lessons from than most others I've read. Her dealings with anxiety and staying in the moment were particularly helpful, and it was interesting but strange seeing into the mind of someone who's dealt with bulimia and sees food as an enemy, mainly because food is My Favorite and it makes me sad someone would be mad at it.

So yes. Aunt Voula wrote a book! Andrea Martin is great, and you should watch her 30 Rock episode (it's in the last season and it's called 'My Whole Life Is Thunder'). Also there's going to be a My Big Fat Greek Wedding sequel? So. Hopefully more Aunt Voula.

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