Review: Cheers to Wendt's 'Drinking With George'

Review Cheers to Wendt

October 22, 2009 15:36
1 minute read.

"Drinking With George" (Simon Spotlight, 240 pages, $24.99), by George Wendt: "Drinking With George" isn't an autobiography, memoir or tell-all. It has elements of all three, but in the end, it's about one thing: beer. George Wendt's alter ego, the wisecracking "Cheers" barfly Norm Peterson, might be TV's all-time top beer devotee, and based on this book, Wendt doesn't appear to be far behind. The 61-year-old actor takes readers through his lifelong love affair with the stuff - he had his first taste as an 8-year-old and got drunk at 16 (at the World's Fair in New York) - and has more than a few tales to tell. Wendt comes across as the ultimate bar buddy. He's self-deprecating, an engaging storyteller and, well, thirsty. He'd tell you that the great love of his life is his wife, Bernadette (who voiced Norm's never-seen not-so better half, Vera, on "Cheers"), but beer isn't all that far behind. It's a longer relationship, anyway, and Wendt has cracked open more than a few cold ones over the years. There's Wendt fetching beers for his grandpa when he was a boy; roaming the streets of his hometown of Chicago as a teenager looking for a bar that would serve him and his pals; drinking and flunking his way out of Notre Dame; hitting the bars after performances with Chicago's famed Second City comedy troupe; and of course, sitting on a barstool for more than a decade at the place where everybody knows your name. "You could say I've put in a lifetime of research" to play Norm, Wendt writes. The book is a lot more than a series of one-liners and beer puns. Wendt sprinkles in tongue-in-cheek helpful hints (how to survive a bar fight and beat a hangover) and facts about his favorite beverage (its history and health benefits). He also doesn't shy away from discussing the dangers of alcohol consumption, including a look back at how he drove drunk through a row of lampposts in the 1970s and was arrested. But Wendt never gets too serious in "Drinking With George," a funny, surprisingly informative read that goes down smoothly with no bad aftertaste.

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