review of Mike's World: The Life of Mike Myers by Martin Knelman, publisher: Penguin
by Moe Berg, Edmonton Journal, August 4, 2002
Martin Knelman, who has previously written biographies of Canadian funnymen Jim Carrey and John Candy, offers Mike's World just in time for the release of Goldmember, the third instalment of the Austin Powers franchise.
Knelman tells us that much of Myers' drive to succeed was inspired by love and admiration for his late father. Eric Myers, a transplanted Liverpudlian, introduced Mike and his two brothers to Monty Python, Peter Sellers and other greats of British comedy. We read that the senior Myers felt "the art of silliness in English humour was for him almost a religious calling." Many of Myers' characters, most notably Austin Powers, were people he thought would make his father laugh. That is as far as readers are allowed into Myers' personal life because no one in his family or any of his close friends were interviewed for this book.
Mike's World provides a linear history of Myers' performing career, from his beginning in Scarborough, Ont., to Second City in Toronto to a brief stint in England, "the Valhalla of comedy," at least according to Knelman.
From there Mike returned to Second City where he was discovered by producer Lorne Michaels and added to the cast of Saturday Night Live. That led to the enormously successful film Wayne's World, which catapulted Myers to superstardom.
The blandness of the book's narrative is noticeably perked up when Knelman decides to involve himself. Reporting on the conflict between Myers and Robbie Fox, the original screenwriter of So I Married an Axe Murderer, Myers' first film after Wayne's World, Knelman quite accurately suggests that Myers should have rewritten the entire script; that the film's funniest moments clearly had Myers' stamp all over them.
As one might expect, Myers has his detractors. Not everyone has enjoyed working with him, and he was involved in a minor scandal Knelman refers to as Dietergate, which had Myers bailing on a feature based on his SNL skit, Sprockets.
Mike's World informs readers that Myers is occasionally paranoid, a perfectionist and has an intense fear of not being funny. That hardly makes him a villain and more accurately puts him in league with 99 per cent of the people in show business.
Generally, Myers is portrayed as a nice guy. Knelman tells a story of how at the peak of his SNL fame, Myers returned to Toronto to perform in a small theatre production with his old friend from London, England, Neil Mullarkey. Myers later tapped Mullarkey to help him rewrite the screenplay of So I Married an Axe Murderer.
Knelman also tells us that Myers put his career on the line by hiring his friend Jay Roach, who had never directed a feature, to helm Austin Powers, Man of Mystery.
Information is repeated throughout the book as though Knelman believes that Mike's World will find itself in the bathroom or other places where books are picked up and opened in the middle. Mike Myers' superfans will be well acquainted with this material as the majority was pulled from previously available sources. However, Austin Powers admirers looking for something to read at the cottage this summer will find Mike's World to be a pleasant time waster.
©Copyright 2002 CanWest Global Communications Corp.