Bonnie’s Book Bytes: Leary doesn’t “Suck” with his latest release

Bonnie Godas

Dennis Leary is interesting because he can make people smile and piss them off at the same time and has proven it once again with his book Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Lazy, and Stupid.

What he has said in this book will certainly offend people, but that’s what Leary is known for. If you read an excerpt of this book, some of which that I will mention here might be responded with “what the f….!” or “you got to be kidding me!” But if you know his history, there is little or no surprise in what he says.

Leary, known to a lot of people in the Boston area, was born and bred in Worcester. He attended Emerson College with fellow classmates Steven Wright and the hilarious Joey Catone, and after graduating was offered a job teaching comedy writing, which he did for five years.

In the 1980’s he worked the comedy circuit, predominantly at the famous Ding Ho in Inman Square, Cambridge. The comedy scene in the 1980’s was huge mainly to college students and anybody that liked nightlife. There was a club in every corner of the city and comedy brought a new art to Boston, which at this time already had a huge local music scene. These types of audiences were always looking for something new to get into. This culture of comedy thrived through the 80’s and produced some of the most famous comics today, some of whom may be familiar to you, whether stand up or on screen. Lenny Clarke, one of the pioneers of Boston Comedy, appeared in such films as Fever Pitch and There is something about Mary, Steven Wright who, after his first appearance on the Johnny Carson Show, was asked by Johnny to sit on the “couch,” a place that Johnny never asks a first time comic to sit. That’s how good he was. He is absolutely one of the funniest comics around. With his deadpan humor he would say something like, “I lost my socks the other day so I called information. They told me that they were behind the couch.” With the combination of Leary’s sarcasm, crassness from Clarke, and the almost too mellow style of Wright, these comedians as well as others in the troupe put Boston comedy on the map. Since then, Leary has starred in both film and TV, most recently in the FX series Rescue Me, in which he plays a dysfunctional firefighter.

So here is Leary with this new book, already getting people upset, especially with his comment about autism. He writes, “There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb ass kids can’t compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks…to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don’t give a s-what these cracker whack jobs tell you-your kid is not autistic. He’s just stupid or lazy or both.” He comments that people took it the wrong way. In my opinion, it is his way to make fun not of the actual disease, and certainly not the children that are afflicted with it, but basically the parents who instead of really looking for help may find it easier for a therapist to do it for them.

And this is not the only subject he touches upon: there is the fat, the lazy, the thin, the politically correct, and hypocrites. It’s all the people that take themselves so seriously it becomes their downfall. He rants and raves about encounters at places we all know like McDonalds: “I sue McDonald’s because the take out window kid who handed me the cup of Joe-who’s from Bum—, Mexico, and has been in this country all of eighteen weeks and only knows the words, “Can I take your order, please,” would you like fries with that and go Yankees-didn’t warn me that the coffee was the same temperature as the air in the hut he grew up in was every single day of his childhood.”

He is certainly ranting and venting in this book and putting down everything in his path, but Leary is serious about some things, one of which is his dedication to Worcester firefighters. In 1999, a horrible fire swept through a building where six firefighters were killed, one of whom was Leary’s cousin. Since the incident, Leary has set up the Leary Firefighters Foundation and has raised millions of dollars that not only helped Worcester firefighters but those in Boston and New York City as well. Now that sounds like a decent guy whom despite his complaining and criticism about the world around him has a big heart and really does care.