Book details

Macmillan Children's Book

Surely You Can't Be Serious

The True Story of Airplane!

Author: David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker; read by Laura Orrico, Joe Praino, the authors and a full cast

Surely You Can't Be Serious

Surely You Can't Be Serious


About This Book

This program is read by the authors (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker), Laura Orrico and Joe Praino, with special appearances by an all-star cast of comedy giants, including the...

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Book Details

This program is read by the authors (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker), Laura Orrico and Joe Praino, with special appearances by an all-star cast of comedy giants, including the film's stars, Julie Hagerty and Robert Hays, as well as Beau Bridges, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Peter Farrelly, Bill Hader, Jimmy Kimmel, John Landis, Patton Oswalt, Trey Parker, Molly Shannon, Sarah Silverman, Matt Stone, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Lee Bryant, Joyce Bulifant, Dick Chudnow, Ken Collins, Jon Davison, Marcy Goldman, Ross Harris, Hunt Lowry, Rich Markey, James Murray, Tom Parry, Lorna Patterson, Pat Proft, Arne Schmidt, Lloyd Schwartz, and Bob Weiss.

"funny and weirdly inspirational, satisfying both the comedy obsessive and the merely curious."The New York Times

"Sprinkled throughout are anecdotes from some of our most successful comedians today, like Weird Al, Bill Hader, and Jimmy Kimmel, telling the stories of what a comedy gamechanger this movie was. A funny and enjoyable listen about a cult classic. Certainly recommended for comedy fans, but also for those with an interest in Hollywood and movie making." —Booklist

Surely You Can't Be Serious is an in-depth and hysterical look at the making of 1980s comedy classic Airplane! by the legendary writers and directors of the hit film.

Airplane! premiered on July 2nd, 1980. With a budget of $3.5 million it went on to make nearly $200 million in sales and has influenced a multitude of comedians on both sides of the camera.

Surely You Can’t Be Serious is the first-ever oral history of the making of Airplane! by the creators, and of the beginnings of the ZAZ trio (Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker) – charting the rise of their comedy troupe Kentucky Fried Theater in Madison, Wisconsin all the way to premiere night. The directors explain what drew them to filmmaking and in particular, comedy.

With anecdotes, behind the scenes trivia, and never-before-revealed factoids, these titans of comedy filmmaking unpack everything from how they persuaded Peter Graves to be in the movie after he thought the script was a piece of garbage, how Lorna Patterson auditioned for the stewardess role in the back seat of Jerry’s Volvo, and how Leslie Nielsen’s pranks got the entire crew into trouble, to who really wrote the jive talk. It also features testimonials and personal anecdotes from well-known faces in the film, television, and comedy sphere, proving how influential Airplane! has been from day one.

Four decades after its release, Airplane! continues to make new generations laugh. Its many one-liners and visual gags have worked their way into the mainstream culture. This fully organic expansion of the ZAZ trio’s fan-base, prompted solely by word-of-mouth, comes as no surprise to longtime fans. When all around us is in flux, laughter is priceless.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin’s Press.

Imprint Publisher

Macmillan Audio



In The News

“The Zucker brothers and Abrahams debut with a rollicking oral history unpacking how their 1980 comedy Airplane! was made … This is a must-read for anyone who loves the film.” —Publishers Weekly

“This delightful book, like Airplane! and many other ZAZ productions, is multilayered, incisive, and surprising … A hilarious, well-structured account of and tribute to a significant film.” —Kirkus Reviews

“If some day they ever wrote a book about how Airplane! got made, I’m sure it would be a bestseller.” —The Pittsburg Picayune

"When you make a list of the best movies of all time, you’re always going to put Airplane! on it. And if movies like that aren’t being made right now, it’s because people aren’t smart enough or funny enough to make them." —Judd Apatow

"Seeing the movie for the first time taught me a great lesson: You’ve got to play comedy as if it’s deadly serious. You’ve got to play weirdness as if it’s the most normal thing in the world." —Patton Oswalt

"Airplane! changed comedy...It was such a specific genre of comedy that no one really has been quite able to rip off, astonishingly." —Sarah Silverman

"Honestly, Airplane! was sort of the Star Wars of comedy...We went to see it several times, with different friends and everything. It was a big deal." —Trey Parker & Matt Stone

"It’s weird. It’s unexpected. It’s absurd. And it never pauses for a laugh, because there’s always another one coming." —The Guardian

"Within months of its release in July 1980 “Airplane!” became one of the highest-grossing comedies in box office history. And it remains one of the most influential... a compact, even classical piece of filmmaking. " —The New York Times

"Frequently imitated but never surpassed, this seriously funny disaster flick made a mockery of itself...a nonstop parade of jokes—absurdist, frequently childish, some certainly in poor taste by contemporary standards, but mostly just…funny." —Smithsonian Magazine

"[A]side from still being ridiculously funny, it’s the rare Hollywood comedy that doesn’t rely on quickly-dated pop culture references for its humor. It’s both of its time and of no time. More than anything, it’s a satire of a certain style of acting—a wooden earnestness that will always come with a bullseye pinned on its back. After all, as long as there are actors who take themselves too seriously, puncturing and deflating them will never go out of style. Like Airplane! itself, it’s timeless." —Esquire

About the Creators

Surely You Can't Be Serious

Surely You Can't Be Serious


Surely You Can't Be Serious
Surely You Can't Be Serious