Daddy's Boy Essay - Critical Essays

Daddy’s Boy

DADDY’S BOY starts with a foreword by David Letterman, on whose show, “Late Night with David Letterman,” Chris Elliott is a writer and occasional performer. This section contains a few witty gems itself, including Letterman’s comment that he never suspected that Chris Elliott was the son of the “Great Bob Elliot” because, after all, Chris “really was just a dolphin in shoes.”

This offbeat sort of humor is then continued in a format of alternating chapters by Chris’s father, Bob Elliott. The elder Elliott made his mark in the entertainment industry as part of the innovative comedic duo Bob and Ray. (The rebuttals are explained as necessary so that there is no chance of a lawsuit, since the book’s subject is still alive.)

The scenario is this: Chris, as the son of a celebrity, was reared to fit the image of his father. He is forced to wear matching clothes with his famous parent (yes, photographs of this sordid time are included) and endure other psychological indignities, along with his nine (or perhaps ten) brothers, the Bob Jrs. (Chris is the only son with an individual name.) Rebellion in adolescence takes the form of a huge weight gain (also pictorially chronicled), until Chris comes to terms with his famous parentage and emerges from his restless youth a wise and emotionally independent celebrity in his own right (complete with several sons all named Chris Jr.).

Bob Elliott’s chapters mainly concern themselves with pointing out factual errors in Chris’s work; for example, Chris’s siblings are actually three sisters and one brother--none of whom seems to be named Bob Jr. The other subjects that come under discussion include Gold Toe socks and the possibility of creating a finnan haddie festival.

DADDY’S BOY is an enjoyable spoof, and depending upon the reader’s own sense of humor, some chapters will be enjoyed more than others. For example, Bob Elliott definitely will appeal to the PBS crowd, especially with comments such as one on how a friend’s house remodeling “would make Bob Vila and Norm Abrams proud.” Still, the Elliotts’ different styles of humor do not show a generation gap; it is more than difference of individuals--despite the matching Bella Abzug floppy hats.