True laughter produces genuine tears. For entertainer Sal Richards, each tear is a lesson learned about facing life’s adversity with grace and courage.
Comedian and actor Sal Richards plans to keep working until his audiences stop laughing. But how does he persist in making people laugh year after year for 50 years?
Behind the Laughter, Hidden Tears is an honest examination of how Sal Richards does it—how he relates so effectively to his audiences. The explanation may sound simple, but it is insightful and sincere: Sal Richards’ struggles are our struggles. His pain has been felt by all of us. And his joy is celebrated by us every time we laugh.
Through it all, Sal Richards has kept laughing, connecting, and teaching. His book is an inspirational story of hard-won triumph and optimism over episodes of tragedy.
About the Author:
Sal Richards’ motivation for this book came from a documentary done on his life. The documentary won six best awards at festivals around the country. Sal and his wife, RoseAnn, reside in West Palm Beach, Florida. RoseAnn has stood by Sal and encouraged him every step of the way.
Behind The Laughter, Hidden Tears is the autobiography of Sal Richards, an entertainer, actor and comedian. He reveals how tears can be hidden behind laughter. From a young age his dream was to entertain. When he left school, he found mediocre jobs to pay the bills as he worked toward a career in the entertainment world. He managed to survive the business for fifty years. He shares the goodness of his marriage, which is still strong today. He also shares the hard times, such as the death of their first born at birth and his second son at the age of 21, and the struggle of dealing with a son’s drug addiction. He and his wife have faced things that have destroyed many marriages. With determination and a love for his wife and family, they pulled together and faced the tragedies.
He shares the struggles of his career choice and tales of those he worked with. The pictorial section of this book brings this family to life on the pages. You can see the love shining on his face, love for his family and his career. He held tightly to the motto: “The Show Must Go On.” Even when his body was broken and he had tears inside, he hid it with laughter.
This is a small book with very short chapters that can be read in one sitting. It’s a very enjoyable read that goes to show you can triumph over tragedy and keep on going.
I really identified with Mr. Richards. Not in the celebrity aspect, but as an individual who has been hit pretty hard by life. Like Mr. Richards, my son has bipolar disorder and I understood what was understated in his book but expressed so clearly to me ( who heard what wasn't directly said) by Mr. Richards when he discussed how he and his wife had gotten to a point where they had had it and admitted it was a struggle ( raising a teen or young adult who suffers from the illness.)
He gave me hope. In 2009, after 14 years of teaching, I was laid off and unable to collect unemployment (because the last school where I worked was a Catholic School and didn't pay into MA system for unemployment). I fought hard to keep my house. I went through my retirement, savings, pension, sold all my jewelry and in May 2010 I joined the ranks of 3 million Americans who lost their homes to foreclosure. The worst part? I can only afford a one bedroom and my kids have moved in with their dad.
I'm struggling to find real work and write as an escape, although I pick up freelance work, I struggle every month to make my rent and I'm lonely without my kids. Like Mr. Richards, I understand how important family is and love my kids.
When Mr. Richards shared how hard it was for him starting out (and at 48, a year younger than his son Sal would have been if he had lived) I also identified because I'm starting over and it's terribly hard.
You see, I was hoping the book would inspire me, but had no idea how much it would. Mr. Richards actually got me to consider the possibility that light might still exist for me somewhere even if where I'm sitting is covered by dark clouds.
I'm not famous, and I hope I don't sound too proud or boastful to admit, that I do believe I have talent when it comes to writing. I just need a break, as Mr. Richards needed in the beginning of his career. And although I'm just a nobody in Mr. Richards world, he left a mark on me by his ability to get me to remember that you'll never be a winner if you quit.
I wish there was a way to personally thank Mr. Richards; maybe you can forward him this? He may have written the book to accompany the documentary, but what he may not have realized is that his words, his message made a difference in my life. Sounds sappy, but it's true...and maybe one day I'll be a successful writer not struggling to survive. But like Mr. Richards, failure isn't an option and I refuse to be pushed out of the ring. I'm a fighter too.
Forgive me for over sharing, but you don't have to thank me for expressing a true opinion of Mr. Richards great book. Please let him know that I wish him much success with his book and he truly is my hero.
The Show Must Go On
The show must go on
Article first published as Book Review: Behind the Laughter, Hidden Tears by Sal Richards on Blogcritics.
Sal Richards, a successful entertainer who's enjoyed 40 years in show business, is best known as a talented comedian and actor. In his autobiography, “Behind the Laughter, Hidden Tears”, published by the Strategic Book Group, Sal Richards shares his personal life story but it isn’t just another story on show biz, although there are interesting stories involving celebrities. (My favorite celebrity dish revealed a shocking story about 70’s star, Helen Reddy. Reddy is famous for singing, “I Am Woman” but after reading about Reddy’s bad behavior, you’ll rename the song that branded her to: “I Am Nothing; Just another Big Bully”!) Sal Richards' story is inspiring and encourages anyone, down on his luck, to stop asking the question, “Why me?” and follow his example.
Once upon a time, just a city kid from the Bronx, the reader quickly learns who the real Sal Richards is. He is a man of character and strength, not afraid to chase his dreams, even when family members are telling him daily to “Get a job”. Sal Richards is a family man, who adores his wife, his mother and children and holds on to his faith, like a true fighter, even when life is dishing out below- the- belt- blows, strong punches that would have knocked out the likes of Rocky Balboa.
You can’t bully Sal Richards out of the ring. He comes back harder, taking what life gives him, blessed or horrific, and somehow manages to go own, grow as a person, learn from his mistakes and become a better man. He shares his “behind the scenes” life with the reader that includes personal tragedies involving family, as well as career setbacks, like when he struggled, early in his career, and couldn't make the rent, only to be evicted, not once but twice.
The chapters are short, on average two pages long, and sequenced chronologically. His writing style is informal and in the Prologue, he tells the reader he got stuck at the airport and had to wait eight long hours for his next flight. Wondering how he’d kill the time, a thought popped into his head; “Well, why don’t I write a book?” In the last chapter, “The Future”, the reader learns this book is a companion to the movie, “Mr. Laughs: A Look Behind the Curtain”, a documentary on his life that won six best feature documentary awards in 2008-2009, at film festivals around the US.
His story is gripping, emotional and deeply personal. The book is a fast read and I read it in one sitting. Turning the pages quickly, I was eager to learn what was going to happen next. Just by flipping through the pages and stopping to look at old family photos and photos with celebrities including: Jay Leno; Ben Stiller; Joy Behar (from “The View”); Muhammad Ali; Robert Goulet; Perry Como; Sid Ceaser; Micky Mantle; Milton Berle—and that only names a few, it was enough to hook me! I honestly felt a virtual- friendship- kind -of -connection grow as I developed admiration for the man, marveling at the way he “held it together” during very difficult periods of his life.
In my opinion, Sal Richards was dealt too many unfair cards, but chooses to live his life focusing on the many beautiful royal flushes he’s also received, in this card game called life. His words made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes. I got the chills reading the chapter, “The Visit”, which details a bizarre happening at his house. The poem he shared, written by his son, was touching and caused me to reflect on how fragile and fleeting life truly is.
Sal Richards writes with honesty. Like a friend who’s talking to you, he speaks to the reader in a genuine conversational style, all his own. (Maybe that’s what creates the bond between the reader and this author.) For example, in one chapter, the reader learns for the first time that a tragic event is beginning and it will be understood better in the following chapters. He ends this chapter by admitting; “I’m getting too emotional to continue- writing this has brought it all back to me. We’ll meet in the next chapter.” How can you not be touched by this man's sincerity?
If you’re looking for creative, poetic writing that is full of imagery or fullness of chapters, detailed in development, you won’t find it here. Sal’s book is concise and shares information quickly, giving a glimpse into his world. It might leave the reader wanting to know more, but he shares just enough to satisfy and understand who Sal, the man not the entertainer, is. His writing, simply stated, is direct and to the point. He even tells the reader that if he had included more details, the book would have become an encyclopedia.
I highly recommend his book because it accomplishes what it sets out to do; it encourages the downtrodden to hold their head up high and refuse to quit. The common threads throughout the story are; value family and never take anything for granted; keep the faith even when you feel like God has deserted you; don’t be afraid to chase your dreams; accept what is and move on.
Sal Richards is a stellar entertainer, but more than that, he’s an inspiration, modeling courage when faced with adversity and heartbreak. His perseverance, moral character and strength will leave you shaking your head and mumbling; “How’d he do that?”
Thank you Sal Richards for sharing your story and reminding us that even if life isn’t for the faint of heart, the show must go on…and somehow, we'll end up okay…
Sal Richards Author's Website