Mitch Friedman : Hell Toupee: My Ridiculous Year Wearing a Hair Replacement

Hell Toupee: My Ridiculous Year Wearing a Hair Replacement

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Biographies & Memoirs, Humor

For Readers Of

David Sedaris, Bill Bryson, Augusten Burroughs, Paul Feig, Tina Fey

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Print Length

308 pages




Lewis Avenue Books

Publication Date

December 23, 2014



About the Book    About the Author

Hell Toupee is the first book of its kind, and for good reason.

We've all seen those television commercials promising a revolutionary hair loss solution for men. But how many of us know what happens, or would even want to, when a balding guy falls for the ploy and signs up?

In this painfully funny memoir, Mitch Friedman blows the proverbial lid off the experience.

About to turn 30 in 1993, with his once ample afro reduced to an afterthought, he joins Head Restart for Men, with disastrous results. At this pivotal point in his budding career as a New York City sketch comedy and improv actor, he finds himself literally stuck with a blatantly obvious, hair-covered needlepoint-canvas beanie glued to his scalp for a whole year. It's the ultimate in a series of increasingly absurd situations, including a summer spent as the world’s suckiest door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, and a hopefully sex-filled Club Med vacation ruined by a trapeze accident, and a hurricane.

Spectacular lapses in luck and decision-making success begin when this “nice Jewish boy from Long Island” has his self-confidence shaken as a young teenager by a tumultuous divorce that leaves his mother unhinged, and his Archie Bunker-esque father with a pregnant girlfriend. Yet despite the setbacks, Mitch perseveres with a sense of humor, following his creative muse wherever it may lead him, no matter how dicey the destination.

Editorial Reviews

Wow. Mitch Friedman is an absolute riot. Hell Toupee is a book that I tried not to read in public (like a doctor’s waiting room) because I looked and sounded like a lunatic, giggling away like the village idiot. You don’t find many laugh-out-loud funny books but, boy, this one is one of the funniest I’ve read.

Friedman’s style of writing is quite unique and impressive. It’s refreshingly bright and challenging. Hell Toupee is not hard to read, mind you, but it’s not a breezy walk in the park. He writes strong, rich, complex sentences with 50-cent words but it’s not done gratuitously. It’s genuine, and it’s a welcome change of pace.
Let me give you an example: “The further [the system] became disengaged, the more difficult it would be to get it to cooperate with my real hair, no doubt sneering at it like the freeloader it was.” See what I mean? Great sense of humor but great writing as well. Hell Toupee is filled with this from beginning to end.

You probably need a good laugh. Which means you need Hell Toupee. Go ahead, you deserve it. --

Toupee is such funny word. One of the funniest in the English language. And I was pleasantly surprised that Mitch Friedman was equally funny - and educational. His tale is simply hilarious. I confess I chuckled, shook my head and laughed out loud at various spots. Think Augusten Burroughs' pointedly sad but hilarious books and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about --

From Kirkus Reviews:

A self-conscious funnyman recalls the series of stressful misfortunes that caused his unflattering hair loss.

Brooklyn comedian Friedman (Totally Tuneless, 2014) first noticed his thinning hair in the early '80s after a succession of tragic events rattled his life. The domino effect of his parents' bitter divorce, a breakup, and turning 30 all contributed to the author's ever-expanding bald spot. Lamenting the incremental loss of what was once a "clownishly large natural...Jew-fro," Friedman appealed to "Head Restart for Men." The $1,500 treatments involved a series of visits to a Manhattan clinic where a toupee-like "hair system" was glued to Friedman's head. A droll comedy of errors began at his office as the paranoid author was scrutinized by critical co-workers; then there was a snafu involving the clinic applying the wrong hairpiece to his scalp, adding insult to injury. Readers will sympathize with Friedman as he attempts to work his way up the New York improv comedy circuit with classes and auditions, only to be stymied by the daily high-maintenance routine required by his hair treatment. Interesting though unevenly distributed, Friedman's book (its title is a classic Simpsons pun) is padded with anecdotes on his post-collegiate years traveling Europe, writing song lyrics, and looking for a girlfriend. As his stage star rose, Friedman eventually dispensed with his "pseudo-hair," ushering in an epiphany that dissolved his insecurities and made room for personal renewal. He adds warmth and depth to eloquent details of a Jewish upbringing influenced by his father, an enthusiastic, egotistical salesman with a comb-over and an infectious sense of humor. Aside from baseball, a youthful obsession with Charlie Chaplin fueled Friedman's interest in live-performance theatrical roles, which also offered a creative distraction from his embittered, divorcing parents. During his first years at college, his bald spot began spreading as Friedman experimented with marijuana, first love, and a disastrous attempt at selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners.

Takes a light, self-deprecating approach, injecting some comic relief into a calamitous experience with hair loss. -- Kirkus Reviews

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