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Book Review: Cabby recalls eccentric passengers

Layout 1Michael Saakyan
Book Editor

Steady work for a D-list comedian is hard to come by, so when your wife announces she is pregnant with your first child you have to make a big change in your life.

In the case of New York comedian Jimmy Failla the change resulted in becoming a certified cab driver.

Failla is best known for his stand-up comedy work all over the stages of New York’s greatest comedy clubs. Opening shows for legendary comedians such as Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” actor Jeff Garlin.

Comedy was something he was used to and good at. Unfortunately working four hours a week, when he was lucy, was not bringing in a lot of money. “Follow That Car: A Cabbie’s Guide to Conquering Fears, Achieving Dreams, and Finding a Public Restroom” chronicles the journey Failla faced trying to bring in extra money for his family.

The book

“Follow That Car” is a collection of bizarre stories captured by Failla such as cheating spouses, wise prostitutes and drug addicted nymphomaniacs. It is impossible to read “Follow That Car” without laughing out loud during the insane antics Failla had to endure with the taxi cab patrons.

A piece of advice when reading “Follow That Care” would be to not read it around prudish family members, because you will have to come clean about the genital and politically incorrect jokes scattered throughout the text.

Failla is currently hosting his own podcast called “Off the Meter” which was inspired by his work as a cabby. On the podcast he discusses current events such as politics, sports and entertainment news.

Failla got the idea to become a cab driver in the seventh grade after he heard a lecture from his English teacher, Mr. Schwabs, on how fun driving a taxi was for him during one summer.

Even at a young age Failla wanted to have experience in conversing with the many colorful people of New York. When Failla asked Mr. Schwabs for advice on how to become a taxi driver, Schwabs had only one advice: Don’t ever do it, it is a terrible, horrible job!

Advice which Failla would later ignore and enter the world of cab driving in 2009. “Follow that Car” documents the assorted passengers Failla has had the pleasure to meet as their guide to New York City.

The passengers

One of his very first passengers during his first year as a cabby was a tall man with a blue duffle bag who Failla describes as someone who looks like a professional serial killer.

As Failla does with most of his passengers, he begins to have a conversation about their day searching for an interesting story or anecdote.

He gets more than he bargained for with Ed Geins Jr. in the backseat. The passenger claimed to have Saddam Hussein’s head in his duffle bag. Failla laughed off the morbid joke but got some great advice from the towering oddball.

The Eight-Second Rule is, according to the passenger, one of the greatest Buddhist teachings relating to man-kind. During the first eight seconds of meeting someone is when we make our judgment toward the individual. Lucky for Failla he passed during the first eight seconds, avoiding what havoc the tall odd ball would provoke.

Although Failla worked during the day time, it was difficult to not get a prostitute who was meeting her john at least once a day. The odd part about the hookers was how they always had the best advice to give.

One afternoon a prostitute got in the cab who had the jawline that would look big on Mount Rushmore, as Failla described it. She wore a stunning sequin dress while her colossal jawline was accompanied with a large Adam’s apple.

They discussed baseball and morning routines. She advised Failla to avoid being late to work and feeling groggy by setting his alarm clock an hour ahead to start the day with fun instead of work. A piece of advice which sounded incredibly useful.

Unfortunate for Failla, the new morning routine was suppose to be include going to bed an hour early to avoid losing an hour of sleep which he did not do.

His first attempt at this new idea of starting the day with fun instead of work was resulted with his first ride to be quiet and full of yawns.

“You really need to get some sleep, pal” said the passenger as he exited the taxi. Groggy and tired, Failla then heard a loud scream made by dozens of women right after the door of his taxi shut. “AL, AL, AL!” screamed the woman as the passenger tried to escape. “Al Pacino! We love you, Al!” cried the women.

A missed opportunity for Failla to have the story of a lifetime. Star of “The Godfather,” in his cab? It sounds too good to be true. “Follow That Car” reflects on his screen play which needs to be in the hands of a Hollywood executive immediately.

Although he missed the boat with Pacino, the very next person who got in his car was a woman named Margie.

She tells Failla she just passed Pacino in the lobby which made Failla feel even worse.

Margie takes a liking to Failla and says she works for the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles and to send her a copy of the screen play he had been working on.

The weird giant passenger’s Eight Second Rule had worked! This was it! It was in the bag, no more taxi driving, no more missed opportunities. Failla may have finally gotten his big break.

The review

“Follow That Car” was a fun read but it fails to keep the reader’s attention during portions of the book which did not relate to insane taxi passengers or politically incorrect jokes.

I am giving “Follow That Car: A Cabbie’s Guide to Conquering Fears, Achieving Dreams, and Finding a Public Restroom” three out of five stars.

Failla left the cab driving business a year ago and competed on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” where he was eliminated during the Vegas Round along with Eric Schartz a.k.a. Smooth E.

“Follow That Car” hit bookshelves Tuesday, March 4 and is available to order on Amazon for $16.99.

Michael Saakyan can be reached at murad.saakyan@laverne.edu.

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