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updated 02/26/2001 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/2001 01:00AM

>Linda Richman

Son-in-law Mike Myers made her famous with his "Coffee Talk" skits on Saturday Night Live, and even Linda Richman, the real-life object of his satire, appreciated the joke. "Big black bouffant hairdo, beaded sweater, huge eyeglasses, leather pants, nails out to here—I have to admit it was pretty close."

The divorced ex-housewife and longtime Queens resident is an unlikely celebrity, much less author. Her book I'd Rather Laugh (Warner) posits that a good sense of humor like hers is a key to weathering life's big bumps. And Richman, 59, has had her share: a long, unhappy marriage; 11 years of agoraphobia during which she never left home; the death of her 29-year-old son in a car accident. To get over the last, she attended 103 self-help seminars and has distilled what she learned into the book's main message: "Laughter is a choice. You have to make a decision that you want to have some joy in your life." Richman's daughter Robin, 37, and Robin's funnyman husband, Myers, 37, garner barely a mention though. Says Richman: "I don't speak for anybody else, [but] they're proud of the book." Michelle York

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