The latest stand-up comic turned sit com star to paste his monologues into a book, Ray Romano (of CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond) is funniest, not surprisingly, when read aloud. His cadences, pauses, bada-boom punchlines all scream: comedy club! But whose voice is it anyway? Carping about life's little irritants—the "completely sealed" pistachio nut or the soda machine that rejects only your dollar bills—Romano sounds eerily like Jerry Seinfeld. Focusing on married life, he evokes Paul Reiser's arch befuddlement. And a Cosbyan weariness suffuses Romano's riffs on the olfactory joys of diaper-changing.
In these passages and others, the 40-year-old father of four sounds like Generic Family Man. But scattered throughout are tantalizing glimpses of the real Romano: a onetime mattress-company trucker who lived in the basement of his parents' Forest Hills, N.Y., home until he was 29. ("Wow, did I save money on dates," he quips.) Who knows? Perhaps in his next book, he might favor us with a full-fledged Romano à clef. (Bantam, $22.95)
Bottom Line: Everybody loves a good laugh, but Raymond's riffs don't add up to a satisfying read