I’m not exactly sure what made me decide to read actor/musician John Stamos’ memoir, If You Would Have Told Me: A Memoir, published in late October 2023. John Stamos has been famous for a good portion of my life. He was on General Hospital in the early 80s, but I never watched that show. I was a Guiding Light fan. I do remember him from Full House, but I was a little too old for that show when it originally aired. I can’t say I was a super fan.
I’ve also never thought Stamos was a particularly great musician… or, at least not when he did music on Full House. I do know that he’s friends with the surviving members of The Beach Boys, and they often have him as a guest drummer. But even though I have a lot of music from a vast array of artists across the spectrum of musicians, I don’t own any music by John Stamos.
So why did I read John’s book, If You Would Have Told Me? Well, it was probably based on a combination of drinking too much alcohol and reading too many clickbait articles about the more lurid details about the book. I am not a particularly highbrow type, so I don’t mind dipping into scandalous tell alls sometimes, even if the book was just written strictly for the money. And the cast of Full House has had its share of scandals. They aren’t quite to the tragic level of the actors from Diff’rent Strokes, but there have been some headlines. I figured some of that would be in John Stamos’ book. Plus, I figured it would be quick and easy to read.
I finished If You Would Have Told Me last night. Overall, I think it’s a fairly decent memoir. I’ve certainly read worse. However, Stamos writes in historical present tense, which is a little annoying to me. It’s just a personal quirk of mine. He’s also not a particularly humble person, not that I was expecting him to be. Sometimes he’s fairly candid, especially when he speaks of his addiction to alcohol and how it was affecting his health. I can tell that John Stamos’ late parents were very good people who loved their children, but his mother, Loretta, especially doted on John. And he obviously adored her, too, as much as he respected his father. I enjoyed reading about that. He made it sound like his parents were salt of the earth type people who never let John’s fame go to their heads or change their lifestyles.
There are some things missing from John Stamos’ book. He mentions working on ER, for example, late in the show’s iconic run. He explains that he was up for the part of Dr. Dave Malucci (played by Erik Palladino), but didn’t get it because the producers thought he was too much like George Clooney. Maybe he was in terms of his looks, but I don’t think Stamos and Clooney are comparable as actors. I hasten to add, I remember some of Clooney’s earliest roles, including when he was on a sitcom called E/R. I remember finding Clooney annoying on that show, as well as when he was on The Facts of Life. I didn’t even think he was cute in those days. But on ER, Clooney was a true star, and he played Dr. Doug Ross to perfection. Stamos did okay as Dr. Tony Gates, but he certainly wasn’t as electric as Clooney was, and he’s kidding himself if he thinks that. I could, however, see him as Malucci… but I think it’s better that the producers went with a lesser known actor who had less of a “pretty boy” aura.
Stamos was also on Glee, which was a very popular show. He doesn’t mention that role at all. I actually liked him on Glee as the dentist who wants to marry the OCD guidance counselor.
Stamos mentions having a good relationship with his Full House castmates, the Olsen twins, Lori Loughlin, Bob Saget (especially), and Candace Cameron. But I don’t remember him printing a word about Jodie Sweetin, who played Stephanie Tanner. He even mentions the cute twins who played his sons on Full House (and somehow looked nothing like either Stamos or Loughlin), but nothing about Jodie. And really, there wasn’t much about Dave Coulier, either– He played Joey, Danny Tanner’s (Saget’s) best friend on Full House.
Stamos was a good friend of Don Rickles’, and he writes quite a lot about that. Rickles, like Bob Saget, was a famously caustic comedian. His humor was not politically correct. Neither was Bob Saget’s comedy, which some people might not know. On Full House, Saget’s character was obsessed with being neat, and played a squeaky clean father type. But when Saget worked as a comic, he was famously profane and crass. I never saw any of his routines. I probably would have enjoyed them. Stamos writes that he and Saget were like brothers, and he was crushed when Saget suddenly died in January 2022.
I did find If You Would Have Told Me a relatively easy and fun read. Stamos seems like a pretty decent guy, in spite of his celebrity. He is a bit full of himself at times, but he tempers that occasional conceit with stories that humble him a bit. He doesn’t write a whole lot about his alcoholism, but he does mention it, and how it was killing him. The fact that Stamos doesn’t delve too much into his demons makes his book lightweight reading that will please the masses. I wasn’t expecting great literature from Stamos’ life story, but I think it would have been nice if he’d dug a little deeper.
Stamos also has few comments about Lori Loughlin’s recent college acceptance scandal that sent her to a federal prison in 2021. He seems to really like Loughlin, though. In fact, Stamos seems to have a lot of friends… and he writes as much about them as he does about himself and his own life. Some readers might find that a weakness.
Overall, I think I’d give If You Would Have Told Me 3.5 stars out of 5. I didn’t think it was a terrible book. I’ve read much worse. But parts of it are kind of boring, and Stamos is quite conceited at times. He does a lot of name dropping and bragging. And when it comes down to it, there really isn’t a lot of meat to this book. He loves his parents and sisters, and that’s a good thing. He thought of many Full House cast members as family… also a good thing.
I just don’t think Stamos spent much time really reflecting on his life before he wrote this book. He spent a lot of time writing about other people, rather than himself. And while some might think it’s rude to speak or write too much about themselves, that’s kind of what memoirs are for. I mean, people buy memoirs to read life stories. So I think John’s life story should have had more about him and his life, and less about Don Rickles and The Beach Boys. Just my humble opinion. And I wish he hadn’t written in historical present tense. But again, that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.
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