The Dangerous Animals Club
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The Dangerous Animals Club

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  626 ratings  ·  127 reviews
From legendary character actor Stephen Tobolowsky, comes a collection of memoiristic pieces about life, love, acting, and adventure, told with a beguiling voice and an uncommon talent for storytelling.

The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky is a series of stories that form a non-linear autobiography. Each story stands on its own, and yet there are larger interconn...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
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Jim
You know those imaginary dinner parties where you get to invite any five people from history for an evening of amazing conversation? This book is the reason Stephen Tobolowsky has always been one of my five. He is a raconteur of the first order, and I think an evening with Beethoven, Abe Lincoln, and Winston Churchill would be made ever more fascinating for his inclusion. But it’s not just that his stories are compulsively entertaining. It’s that they resound with insight and revelation. Tobolow...more
Rachael
Oct 14, 2012 Rachael rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Public radio fans
I've been a long-time listener of The Tobolowsky Files, practically since inception, and I've been lucky enough to see Stephen Tobolowsky perform his stories live in Boston. So it's fair to say that I've experienced these stories from all the mediums now: audio, live performance, and now through reading.

If you're already a fan of the podcast, the book might be worth skipping. It is almost an exact repeat of the podcast, which makes sense since Tobo sits down and writes everything out completely...more
Ensiform
A collection of essays and autobiographical pieces by the veteran character actor, amounting a book that is both memoir and pop philosophy. He’s a witty and self-deprecating story-teller who seems to have an inexhaustible cache of bizarre anecdotes, from his childhood escapades hunting poisonous animals in Texas fields to the surreal experience of working under eccentric director David Milch on “Deadwood,” from the inexplicable and nasty vendetta an acting professor maintained against Tobolowsky...more
Neil McCrea
As a diehard cinephile, I'm certainly aware of Tobolowsky's screen work, but I had no idea what to expect from this collection of anecdotes, essays and other autobiographical tidbits. When I found this book to be funny it wasn't much of a surprise, when I discovered that it was also wise I became impressed.

The stories involving Stephen's childhood suggested to me a more erudite version of Patrick MacManus. The film industry anecdotes are light, crisp and funny. The bulk of the book is made up of...more
Cindy
If you are fortunate enough to have downloaded all the episodes of The Tobolowsky Files, this book is comprised of stories from the podcast. If you are like me, you've listened to every episode numerous times and you know how earth-shatteringly profound these stories are.

I did the audiobook (for obvious reasons) and what you get is a cleaner, more streamlined version. The words are all there (at times, verbatim), with changes made to correct missquotes and a sentence or two as stylistic choices...more
Karen Hansen
The funny thing about Stephen Tobolowsky is I bought his collection of personal stories, The Dangerous Animals Club, without having a clue about the author. Yet, as I read his book, I learned that he has been a character actor in so many of my favorite television shows, most notably, Deadwood. Midway through the book, I looked him up on IMDB and I had my light-bulb moment.

As much as I enjoy watching Tobolowsky act, I think that he might be even better as a writer. The Dangerous Animals Club is...more
Terry
Tobolowsky has appeared in hundreds of film and television roles (e.g., in Groundhog Day; Deadwood; Glee); however, instead of being recognized as a movie star, he writes that he is often mistaken for an insurance salesman or former science teacher. Perhaps it’s this everyman quality that elevates his debut collection of essays. Rather than presenting a mere compilation of anecdotes, Tobolowsky tells each story for a reason, creating a tapestry encompassing catching tarantulas, broken hearts, Da...more
Blake Dornfeld
The Dangerous Animals Club
By Stephen Tobolowsky
Autobiographical Novel

The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky is a collection of stories and experiences of an actor. It follows his childhood mishaps, family blunders, collegiate errors, and riveting experiences with drugs.

This book has motifs. Shocker. Throughout the book, Tobolowsky juxtaposes his role as a student with the purpose of his book, which is to be a teacher. "I have always chosen to be a student. It's fun to learn." He keeps...more
Tansal
If you want to know whether to check out this book, I recommend that you start either with one of the freely available episodes of the Tobolowsky Files podcast, or the movie that inspired it, Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party. As an avid listener of the podcast since the beginning, I wanted to support the incredible work done there by purchasing this audiobook. It's like a greatest hits of the podcast, recorded in high quality, a bit more organized to have a flow and conclusion, and with some...more
Catherine Belles
Stephen Tobolowsky, The Dangerous Animals Club.
This is a collection of short stories with an underlying autobiographical theme; the four people Stephen considers his personal heroes. In the midst of telling stories from his life growing up and becoming a character actor, Stephen ponders deep questions of personal and social worth. He is Jewish but did not begin to consider scripture with any seriousness until an adult. He considers two Old Testament stories at some length, Joseph and Creation....more
Stephanie
Aug 24, 2012 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of nonfiction storytelling
Shelves: memoir, humour
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC and enjoyed it immensely. As a casual listener of The Tobolowsky Files (the podcast, and having attended one of the shows), the obvious question is how it compares to the audio version. Though they are very similar, in the end it's not only the tone of his voice that I love, but his attitude: friendly, open, and real with an inspiring gentleness. Stephen Tobolowsky encourages me, in the most honest way, to be kind and not afraid. I will always be inte...more
Ana
Full disclosure - I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I often peruse the giveaways page and enter a few of them when their blurb catches my eye.
But then I'll completely forget about them as I go about my everyday life.
So when I received an email letting me know that I'd won a copy of 'The Dangerous Animals Club', I didn't remember anything about it and had absolutely no expectations. I actually won a couple of giveaways around the same time, so this one sat on my nightstand for a little wh...more
Barbara Baer
This book was a wonderful surprise. I read one online essay by Stephen Tobolowsky and decided on a whim to buy the book. And I loved it.I was actually really disappointed when I finished that there wasn't more available for me to read.

The book is a memoir written in the form of a series of essays. These essays are not all in chronological order, which he somehow makes work. Some essays are serious, some funny, some philosophical, some instructive, and some just plain interesting. None so far hav...more
Patrick Devlin
Really a good book by this actor/writer who you will certainly recognize, but won't know his name. He shares stories from his own life that will have you laughing into your hand to prevent waking up your wife in the middle of the night as you try to get through one more chapter. Very entertaining.
Leah
I listened to Stephen read this book and I loved it. About a year ago I was clued into his podcast - which is the genesis of this book. Luckily I hadn't heard any of these stories before, although really, hearing them again would be wonderful.
It must take an actor to be willing to bare his soul the way Stephen does. He takes the mundane and creates wonderful stories, of course it also could be that he simply has a fascinating life.
He doesn't sugarcoat anything, he is very honest about what went...more
David Alkek
This is a hilarious collection of real-life stories by a movie and TV actor. He has a wonderful way of telling a funny story, as if you were listening to a stand-up comic. My sides hurt from laughing.
Joshua Gross
Stephen Tobolowsky is a lot better at telling stories than Nick Offerman is. A lot of these stories were very interesting or very funny, although none of them are particularly edgy or resonant. Stephen Tobolowsky is also capable of sounding a little old-fashioned, particularly in regards to women. For some reason, a lot of the stories feature his ex-girlfriend Beth, while few have much to do with his current wife. I did like reading about the way Hollywood works from the point of view of an inte...more
Jeremiah

Stephen Tobolowsky has a very compelling biography and more than most celebrity memoirs, he is able to present it beautifully and richly, whether it's on his podcast, the Tobolowsky Files, or the film Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party, or this book, he has experienced every level of the entertainment industry, from children's entertainment to blockbusters; he has partied with David Byrne, broken his spine, kissed a man while smuggling drugs, and played in a garage band with Stevie Ray Vaughn--...more
Heidi
I realize now as an adult that I was extremely fortunate to grow up in a family that loved and utilized audiobooks. Living in Wyoming, road trips were a frequent occurrence. The nearest mall/bookstore/Target was 180 miles away, the closest family member 90 miles, and the majority of my family lived a minimum of a 13 hour car ride from our home. This meant that with some regularity we would pack up the car and take off, spending all day with pillows and suitcases piled about us. My parents would...more
Vee41dmb
I'd give this one 3.5 stars.
The beginning was SO hilarious!! The part about the Dangerous Animals Club.
There were a couple small things that bothered me about the book. It wasn't really in the style of essays, which is fine, however the way Stephen repeated stuff he had already written previously to remind the reader of them was pretty annoying at times. Maybe it's because I was engrossed in the book and just wanted to hear more, not repeats.
I did not know who Stephen Tobolowsky was when I bough...more
Scott
Stephen Tobolowsky is like the world's best dinner guest. This collection of stories about his life and his acting career is so hard to put down because I just kept wanting to hear more! Just tell one more story about that goofy teacher you had in college, one more silly childhood memory, just please keep talking...

He is not only a talented storyteller but also shows himself to be a thoughtful human being that has learned from his mistakes and is more than willing to share them with you. And he'...more
Kim
An actor I wouldn't have "heard of" but whom I have seen in dozens of television shows and films, from Thelma and Louise to Deadwood to Heroes to Glee. This man has been around. And he can spin a tale. An actor by day but a storyteller by night?

This book is funny and it's carefully woven together--it's not chronological but it's crafted. A reader will never feel lost. In places he repeats elements of a story, but not, as is so often the case, because writer or editor missed a duplication, but b...more
Larissa
As the second biography from a comedic actor that I have read in as many months, (I read the spectacular, poignant autobiog of Steve Martin, Born Standing Up), I found Stephen Tobolowsky to be witty, flippant and surprisingly, eloquent. His various screen roles have made him memorable, as the everyman with that wallflower tendency of the perpetually overlooked. What I didn't know, was how emotional his writing would be. I heard (on audio - read by him) his life stories spun into clever 15-20min...more
Sue
I confess that I only made it to page 34. According to Nancy Pearl, librarian extraordinaire, I gave up on this one 21 pages too soon. (Before giving up on a book, you are to read 100 pages minus your age. Not a directive, but a handy guideline.)

I also confess that I haven't heard any of Tobolowsky's podcasts. If I had, I may have had my ear tuned to his humor.

I could live with the unapologetic harassment of wildlife, both as a child (forgivable) and as a father (less so). The tipping point fo...more
Laura
Stephen Tobolowski—an excellent character actor who can play humor or menace or menacing humor equally well—proves also to be an excellent storyteller. This set of stories is a loose non-chronological memoir, mostly focusing on Tobolowski's early days as an aspiring actor in the 1970s and his relationship with the troublesome Beth, his live-in girlfriend for 15 years. But there are tons of sidelights about moms, siblings, dogs, Texas, Hollywood, Broadway, parties, friends, and various characters...more
Amy Bond
What a surprise, this book! I usually enjoy books by actors because they are entertaining but I don't expect much else besides laughs. Tobolowsky really goes above and beyond that standard. Each story focuses on a lesson that Tobolowsky has learned through experiences as varied as being held at gunpoint to writing an essay about Alaska to catching tarantulas as a child to a not-so-escaped elephant named Bubbles. The interesting part is that the lessons are never what you expect them to be and "T...more
Nordy
Don't believe those beer commercials, Stephen Tobolowsky is the most interesting man in the world. While reading this book, and listening to his podcasts, I often questions how so many weird, wonderful and abject events could happen to one man.

This book leapfrogs back and forth and through his adventurous childhood in Texas, his life as a struggling and successful actor, relationships, heartache, parenthood, and swinging a water moccasin above his head.

I have only listened to some of the Tobol...more
Chris
Jul 20, 2013 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone with a sense of humor
Recommended to Chris by: Stephen Tobolowsky (on a radio show)
Shelves: humor, movies
Boy, this is just a terrific book. I haven't been able to stop recommending this to people. I've been in tears laughing during lunch breaks reading this book. When you cannot even figure out why exactly you're laughing, you know you have a great book in your hands.

In this book, Stephen Tobolowsky (many of you might remember him as the insurance salesman "Ned Ryerson" from the movie "Groundhog Day") tells all sorts of hilarous and moving stories about his life.

But it doesn't matter how much you k...more
Deniz
I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway, and am glad I did. This is the exact type of book I'd never know how much I'd enjoy and would probably never stumble upon on my own sifting through genres of books I expect to like.

The first story, which the book is named after, really grabbed me from the first couple pages and was simultaneously and subtly a nostalgic, hilarious, and touching portrayal of what it is to be a young boy, a father, a human.

The stories are written with such a sense of ease and gro...more
Erin Sidney
I listened to every single episode of the podcast that these stories came from, so I had heard all of them before. It's possible there was a new one in there that wasn't on the podcast. I relished re-living these stories from someone I consider a friend I've never met. Truly inspiring, moving and laugh out loud funny.

The only thing that bugged me was the editing decision to leave in a lot of call-backs and quick retellings of previous stories that made them feel like transcripts of the podcast...more
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The quintessential character actor, Stephen Tobolowsky has appeared in more than 100 movies and more than 200 television shows in his career (USA TODAY recently noted that he was the ninth most frequently seen actor in film today). Along the way his roles have spanned almost all aspects of being a working actor, from the big-budget and Oscar Award-worthy (as head of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi...more
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“The one common tragedy I have seen woven throughout my life and the lives of others is that we can't feel the miracle of our own lives.” 1 likes
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