I’d be lying if I said I was a Billy Crystal fan. I always found him tolerable at best, in the realm of cinema, as an Oscar host, and comedian. I’d also be lying if I told you I had any intention to watch “700 Sundays.” My viewing of it was accidental and suffice it to say, I was shocked that “700 Sundays” ended up being so entertaining. Normally I detest the one man shows and find them the epitome of self indulgence, but Crystal has surely earned his chance to stage a one man show about his life. And while he does have a chance to perform a show about his Hollywood experiences, he instead discusses much of his life, and how his comedy career were merely a footnote in an unusual life.
The title “700 Sundays” refers to Crystal’s estimated number of Sundays with his father before he died suddenly when Crystal was fifteen. Crystal’s dad was a man who worked non-stop almost every day of the week, except for Sundays. Those were the days he was able to spend with his wife and three sons, and Crystal counts the Sundays with appreciation and with regret. Surely, he was given seven hundred Sundays with his father to enjoy and remember for the rest of his life, but he was only given seven hundred Sundays before he was taken away from his family. Much of Crystal’s life isn’t glamorous and yet manages to be pretty entertaining and compelling, just the same.
Crystal approaches his life with deep love and adoration, even with the pain he experienced, and digs in to a lot of really painful moments in his life with a sadness you can hear emanate in his voice. Even when he’s thinking about the first time he performed during a Ragtime Jazz concert, where he was embraced by his father, he evokes a deep sense of longing for the simpler times. There are some genuinely funny stories and experiences he plays out for the audience, and plays off of their reactions well. From the time where his dad refused to be bullied by an Italian gangster who wrecked the family car, to Billy’s movie going trip with Billie Holiday, it’s charming and often laugh out loud funny.
Like most folks nostalgic for their simpler times, Crystal mourns his childhood and his moments of happiness with his father and mother, and you can almost feel it when he thinks back to his the introduction of his family vehicle, his parties with his uncles, his outrageous grandmother who had a one-liner for every occasion, and the final conversation he ever had with his mother. “700 Sundays” is a very entertaining and charming look back at the beginnings of Billy Crystal the man and the showman, and offers an insight in to Crystal’s humor and ability to connect with audiences near and far. “700 Sundays” is highly suggested, even for folks that don’t really follow Crystal and his long and seasoned career.