Without sparing the embarrassing details, Balbirer chronicles the two decades she spent as a struggling actress in the trenches of show business. From the searing purist tutelage of David Mamet at NYU Drama School ("In show business, women who are lucky enough to find employment are asked to do only two things in every role they ever play: take your shirt off and cry") to her bizarre 1 AM Saturday Night Live audition for Lorne Michaels, Balbirer recounts her sometimes disappointing, sometimes painful, and always bizarre adventures.
Among the stories in Take Your Shirt Off and Cry is "Friendly Fire," which is about Nancy's friendship and eventual falling out with a good friend who went on to become a huge star with a top-rated sitcom. Fame may not have knocked on her door, but it certainly slept on her couch. Take Your Shirt Off and Cry is an utterly engaging, deeply personal, and absurdly comic memoir from a one-of-a-kind talent.