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No Job for a Man
Table of Contents
About The Book
A darkly witty, deeply affecting, and finely crafted memoir by the Big Bang Theory and Speechless star and comedian, John Ross Bowie.
From his earliest memories of watching Rhoda with his parents in their tiny Hell’s Kitchen apartment, John knew that he wanted to be an actor. The strange, alternate world of television—where people always cracked the perfect joke, lived in glamorous Upper East Side buildings, and made up immediately after fighting—seemed far better than his own home life, with parents on the brink of divorce and a neighborhood full of crumbling pre-war architecture and not-so-occasional muggings. That other world also seemed so unattainable. Besides crippling stage fright (which would take him years to overcome) John's father, ever aloof and cynical, has instilled within him the notion that acting is “no job for a man.”
His father would impart that while theater, film, and television should be consumed and even debated, to create was no way to make a living or support a family. Putting aside his acting dreams, John stumbles through his twenties. He tries his hand at teaching and other traditional occupations, but nothing feels nearly as fulfilling as playing with his fleetingly on-the-map punk band, Egghead.
When the band breaks up, John lands a joyless job copywriting for a consulting firm and slips into a dark depression. He loses weight, begins drinking heavily, and his relationships flounder.
But everything changes when John discovers improv (and anti-depressants). As an early student of New York’s now-famous Upright Citizens Brigade, John not only explores his passion for acting and comedy—and begins to envision himself doing so professionally—he also finds a community and a unique stability in instability.
No Job for a Man follows John’s journey as he tries to make it in the arts, meeting success and failure, wins and losses, despair and hope along the way. Though his father chronically refuses to acknowledge pride in his adult son’s accomplishments, John comes to his own idiosyncratic version of being a man.
- Publisher: Pegasus Books (November 1, 2022)
- Length: 304 pages
- ISBN13: 9781639362462
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Raves and Reviews
"Bowie writes in a style that is both comfortably earnest and humorous about his time as a college DJ, a high-school English teacher, and leader of his own punk band, Egghead. He also writes candidly of dealing with depression, and it’s clear that by the time he joins the Upright Citizens Brigade, that there is nothing he takes for granted. Bowie’s hard-won success on television is truly only a small part of his story. Like the punk bands Bowie idolized as a teenager, his voice rings true in a crowded genre."
– Library Journal
“A smart, pithy memoir with an earnest emotional arc. The recurring contrast—bleak and grotesque collide with redeeming beauty—keeps Bowie’s free-flowing narrative grounded. Bowie employs a light touch while recounting love and family relationships that spark and fade through choice conversational snippets and anecdotes, culminating in a poignant climactic encounter with his brusque father. No Job For a Man is like a worn-in band T-shirt at a wrap party: sardonic yet soft.”
– Publishers Weekly
“For how personal this memoir is, it inadvertently serves as a life guide to any aspiring actor.”
– Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and author of I Want To Be Where the Normal People Are
"While you’ve long known John Ross Bowie as 'that guy from that thing,' get ready to know him as a thoughtful raconteur whose stories beautifully blend heartfelt contemplation on masculinity, generational shifts, forgiveness, and the way that the arts can save wandering souls."
– Chris Gethard, Beautiful/Anonymous, HBO’s Career Suicide
“No Job For A Man is the kind of personal journey I want to read about. Filled with fascinating stories beginning with John Ross Bowie growing up in Manhattan in an environment of theatre, TV comedy, and music. His relationship with his father is complicated, and is beyond just simple generational resentment. There are expectations and disappointment, but at the same time, a lot of love and understanding. The way John sees his life is endlessly entertaining. It was not always easy, and now I see what is behind his wonderful performances and his love of punk music.”
– Fred Armisen, Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, and Trenchmouth.
"Bowie knows how to set a scene, knows how to hook readers with sensory detail before packing a punch with honest, self-reflective (and occasionally self-depreciating) writing—a page-turner for sure, all delivered with a sardonic wit and peppered with Easter eggs for aging punk nerds like me."
"John has seemingly lived ten thousand lives. He was a kid that got mugged in New York City. He was in a punk band. He was a teacher. And he ultimately became an actor in one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. He manages to tell each life story with a perfect balance of introspective wisdom and laugh-out-loud humor. Reading this book feels like sitting down with a friend and having one of those long chats that spellbind you til you realize it’s six hours later and you should move your car so you can listen for another six hours.”
– Broti Gupta, writer, The Simpsons, The New Yorker
"John Ross Bowie's moving, humane, and funny memoir is ultimately about how we determine who we are. It's a lot like the characters I've seen John play on screen: relatable guys who have seen some shit and are trying to figure shit out. He goes on a mission, a personal odyssey really, to figure out if he's a DJ, a teacher, a corporate cog, a rock star, or a Hollywood actor and he poignantly shares the many losses and huge wins that go along with that effort. I loved traveling with John as he made that journey, gathering wisdom and sometimes hard lessons from his unique parents, the murky New York City of his youth, and relationships both doomed and fruitful."
– John Moe, author of The Hilarious World of Depression
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