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Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  288 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews

From housewife to humorist, Phyllis Diller has been making millions laugh for five decades with her groundbreaking comedy. Now the laughter continues with her uproarious autobiography.

Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse recounts how, against all odds, Phyllis Diller became America's first successful and best-loved female stand-up comic. She began her professional career at a

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Hardcover, Large Print, 387 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Thorndike Press (first published February 17th 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Amelia Chameleon
Nov 30, 2009 Amelia Chameleon rated it really liked it
I bought this second-hand with an inscription from one man to another to celebrate their 12th anniversary. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Phyllis Diller is an incredibly funny and interesting lady and this is a warts-and-all memoir of her trials and tribulations -- she's not holding ANYTHING back. I admire that a great deal and I especially appreciate that she maintains her humor even now, despite the difficulties that she's been through. Being married to a schizophrenic alcoholic a
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Amanda Ishtayeh
Sep 02, 2009 Amanda Ishtayeh rated it liked it
Like most biographies I am only interested in the childhood and formative years so this dragged on as I got toward the end. However, since she is from my hometown of Lima, it proved really interesting in the parts that referred to that. If you are a fan of true comedy...this is worth a look.
Seymour Glass
Apr 12, 2013 Seymour Glass rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An hilarious and insightful account of the humble beginnings of America's first female stand-up comic.
I first heard of Phyllis Diller a few years ago when I stumbled across a radio show about her which featured lots of audio clips of her performances. I couldn't believe what I was hearing - they'd mostly been recorded in the 1950s and she was a housewife at the time yet she had such a mouth on her and spoke with such snarky scorn of her deadbeat husband Fang (whom the book reveals to be fiction
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Jane
Jul 21, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I enjoyed the book but found myself strangely dissatisfied. It is as though she skipped a pebble on the surface of a pond. In an interview I heard recently, she emphasized the importance of having no agenda. Yet at the same time she says that it is important that a comic have hostility. From where does that hostility originate? Everything is political and yet, given the era in which she worked, she seems strangely void of any feminist consciousness. How can this be? She had huge amounts of cosme ...more
Sara
With a title like Like A Lampshade in a Whorehouse, how can you go wrong??

Phyllis Diller was a comedian that I discovered while watching the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, and the minute I saw her, I knew I needed to know more.

This autobiography was extremely entertaining and surprisingly inspirational. She had some very dark spots in her life, but she used her comedy as therapy. She had such a positive outlook on everything and she was a walking example of self-fulfilling prophesy. She worked h
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Margaret Kumma
Jul 18, 2015 Margaret Kumma rated it it was amazing
I've always loved Phyllis Diller, and this book is very well written. I remember seeing her on TV when I was very young and was immediately struck by her crazy hair and wonderful laugh. I swear, I could hear her laugh as I read this book. I love that she never stopped laughing out loud throughout her entire life, and I'll always miss her.
Trixie Fontaine
Mar 23, 2010 Trixie Fontaine rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I got to page 99, the chapter called "Believing", put it down, and haven't picked it up in months. It's apparent to me that I have no desire to read it.

It was interesting, sorta inspirational, mildly entertaining, but just not enough for me. This is only the third celebrity autobiography I've read/started to read and I don't think it's the genre for me because it relies so heavily on name-dropping which BORES THE SHIT OUT OF ME. I can handle it if it's someone I'm really interested in, but I gue
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Katie Bliss
This was OK - humor back then is just not like today's humor so I didn't find it as funny as I thought I would, Diller also seems to present herself as a saint living amongst sinners in most situations, and I just don't buy that. Her life was all about love and karma, but by the end of it, it seems like her kids and grandkids weren't even much in the picture for the most part, so I got the impression her life was more about self-love than anything. The part where her last husband is looking gray ...more
Heather Hill
Jul 22, 2014 Heather Hill rated it it was amazing
Marvelous, inspiring - oh God how I miss the comedy genius that was Phyllis. Read this if you want real laughs in a book and also, if you ever had a dream and struggled to find the courage to pursue it
Allison
Jan 30, 2016 Allison added it
Shelves: favorites
Front to back and side to side funny, touching, and heartbreaking all at the same time. She was a leader in her field, a fine artist, and one-of-a-kind. Miss you Phyllis.
Catherine
Dec 15, 2007 Catherine rated it really liked it
A lot of these star bios follow similar threads, i.e., bad marriages, life on the road, drug and/or alcohol abuse, and other stars they've worked with. But I was impressed with Diller's honesty and positive attitude she expressed throughout her book. She describes reading a book as a young woman that aided in her finding a more positive path in her life, but she doesn't prosthyletize to her readers. She's lived a full live, filled with many tragic as well as happy events. Overall, I enjoyed this ...more
Barbara
Great story of her very odd life, her dad was 55 when she was born, she had horrible husbands and kept going toward her goal
Steve Shilstone
Sep 25, 2015 Steve Shilstone rated it really liked it
A candid autobiography. Not an easy road to fame and fortune for Phyllis.
Francis Cuncich
Feb 08, 2014 Francis Cuncich rated it it was amazing
Such a special lady, nobody can put together a better garage sale than her ~ !!
Alaine
Jul 17, 2015 Alaine rated it liked it
Interesting insight into a colorful, funny lady!
Julie
Jan 26, 2016 Julie rated it it was ok
Very little of interest.
Pat Buzby
Phyllis Diller had an interesting life, a change of life baby. Married into a crazy family and after five kids realized she had to do something to support her family so she put all her energy into her comedy. She got rid of husband #1 for a man who was bi-sexual and didn't really find true love until she was sixty and by then her kids that she worked to feed had moved on. She made the best of a tough situation and seems content with her days now enjoying her piano playing and art hobby.
Leticia
Dec 05, 2012 Leticia rated it liked it
As far as honest biographies go, this was good. I've always enjoyed Phyllis Diller's comedy. The book is written well and her voice came through. There was so much heartache and pain that you would never have guessed from seeing perform.

p.s. Don't try and read the jokes inserted between paragraphs outloud. No one will get them. It's all in the delivery. They made me LOL as I read them in my head with her voice, but my husband didn't get them. (insert Phyllis' laughter here.)
Roberta
Apr 23, 2009 Roberta rated it liked it
I'm not a fan of Phyllis Diller but how could I resist this title? I can't say this biography improved my opinion of her. She came across as kind of self-centered. Her in-laws basically raised her 5 kids. There was a lot of mental illness in that family, but she was amazingly upbeat considering what a tough, unhappy life she had. Her parents didn't seem to like her very much and she had two bad marriages. There was also a lot of poverty despite the wealth. Kind of sad.
Ramona
Aug 09, 2014 Ramona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though I frequently laughed out loud while reading this book, I am unsettled overall. Behind the scenes, Phyllis had a very rough life. Two terrible husbands who both had degrees of mental impairment (two of her five children also had mental health issues) obviously shaped her worldview but I ended up feeling really sorry for them. Still, the subtitle is "My Life in Comedy" and that aspect doesn't disappoint.
Stephanie Baker
Sep 06, 2012 Stephanie Baker rated it it was ok
I hated the way the book was written; I'm shocked it had a ghost writer. But, it was very interesting. I didn't leave the book liking her at all. She is oddly full of herself. I grew sick of hearing how wonderful she is. Her marriages are nuts, and the book left out the most interesting part, dismissed with just one sentence. I really like that the book is broken up with her jokes. Those might be my favorite part.
Barbara Spurll
Dec 19, 2012 Barbara Spurll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This inspiring read tells Phyllis Diller's rags to riches story. In a candid way, she admits to her shortcomings and the mistakes she made along the way but also takes ownership and celebrates her achievements which, of course, are legendary. Having a belief in herself only came with hard work and persistence, but it paid off big time in the end. I highly recommend this memoir if you are a fan.
John G.
Aug 10, 2014 John G. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humorology
Diller was a trail blazer, very hip and smart lady in male dominated world of stand-up comedy. The book rapidly went downhill about halfway through, her struggles to reach success seemed much more interesting than after she made it. There are some great jokes lightly interspersed here, some good insights into comedy in general and stand-up comedy in particular.
Yvonne Riggs
Jul 20, 2011 Yvonne Riggs rated it liked it
i really enjoyed the story of phyllis dillers life. she is a very interesting women, although very full of herself. i have read a variety of life stories and it seems phyllis diller and keith richards are megalomaniacs. but the story is still good. she inserted some vary funny jokes from her stand up and i feel fortunate to have learned about her.
Heather
May 05, 2010 Heather rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I love Phyllis Diller, her sense of humor and writing style are very good. However, her story is a hard one to read. I had a hard time getting through this book despite her interspersed humor, simply because she was put through so much and had no way to deal with it other than to make fun of herself which became her comedy shtick.
Edmund
Dec 28, 2012 Edmund rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
PD was one of my top 10 favorite comics, so when the book was mistakenly sent to me rather than a DVD of her performances it felt right to read it in this year of her death. This co-written book didn't seem to plumb the depths of her darkest periods nor mine the fertile areas of her humor, but it was a pleasant holiday read.
Cindy
Jul 08, 2008 Cindy rated it really liked it
What an interesting life Phyllis Diller has had. I enjoyed hearing her story. I imagine many who have watched her comedy in the past would also enjoy and be surprised at the twists and turns she's lived through. Who knew she lived in Alameda at one time in an old bordello?
Toni
Jul 05, 2010 Toni rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
I had known Phyllis Diller had an unhappy first marriage, but I had no idea how far beyond "unhappy" it went. It was refreshing to read about someone who pulled herself up and made a success of her life anyway, without asking for sympathy or wallowing in self-pity.
sharon
Aug 25, 2013 sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not at all what I expected however so glad I read. Phyllis Diller's life is one of bravery, hardship, and over coming every obstacle presented in her life. Phyllis Diller's life is an inspiration to all women who want to live life to the fullest of their desires.
Kathy Sutton
Apr 07, 2009 Kathy Sutton rated it it was amazing
This was a life affirming book of persistence, resilience and humor. I have a new respect for the first woman in comedy to break through the male barriers of comedy while confronting the hardships of a difficult marriage. An inspiring read for all.
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Phyllis Diller was a Golden Globe-nominated American comedienne considered to be one of the pioneers of female stand-up comedy. She created a stage character persona that was a wild-haired, eccentrically-dressed housewife who made jokes about a fictional husband named "Fang" while smoking from a long cigarette holder. Another distinct characteristic is her cackling laugh, one of the best-recognize ...more
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