Though it might not be the funniest sitcom on television right now (that honor is a toss-up between Everybody Loves Raymond and The Simpsons), The Bernie Mac Show is arguably the most consistently likable show on television. One of the reasons that it is so charming is Mac’s undeniably ingratiating presence. Sitting in his armchair, telling his stories and dispensing advice, Mac is more like a host to his television audience guests than a sitcom dad.
So it’s no wonder that his book Maybe You Never Cry Again shimmers with that same intimacy and warmth. Though Mac points out that he is no saint (he mentions that, of the four comedians in the “Kings of Comedy” tour he participated in, his act was the raunchiest), it is almost impossible to dislike the guy.
Maybe You never Cry Again follows the comedian/actor from his humble beginnings in Chicago (where he was born Bernard McCullough), living with his loving but tough mother and grandparents. His mother, who died of breast cancer when Mac was sixteen, was obviously a driving force in his life, and her advice to him -– which he calls “Mac-isms” -- stays with him long after her death.
There’s a lot of the standard celebrity biography stuff here: the personal ups and downs, the stories of rotten jobs held while waiting for that big break, the gratitude to the family and friends who stuck by him. But what makes the book special is how down-to-earth Mac is. He’s not afraid to let his dark side show, as in a story about how he nearly left his family after a fight with his daughter led to a physical confrontation with his wife. Most stars would be afraid of looking unsympathetic, but Mac honestly lays out the story, as well as his feelings of shame and frustration.
All in all, Mac seems like someone who has his priorities straight. He remains married to the high school sweetheart whom he wed at age nineteen, and adores his wife and daughter (Mac says that, when developing his sitcom, he pushed extra hard for a loving relationship between the sitcom husband and wife, alarmed by the confrontational relationship that most television couples have). He also seems to remember that it wasn’t long ago that he was frying fish or delivering Wonder Bread, and that seems to keep things in perspective.
In the end, the story Mac tells is warm, funny, poignant and undeniably human -- much, one imagines, like Mac himself.