THREE VERY DIFFERENT LIVES, IN THEIR OWN WORDS.
Unlike footballers and musicians, stand-up comedians seem very capable of writing about their own lives themselves, without the help of ghost writers. I’ve recently read three, all totally different, all funny in their own way and all reflecting the style of the comedian in question. I enjoyed all three in very different ways and would recommend them all, although I wouldn’t give the third one as a present to anyone easily shockable, with a weak heart, a strongly religious nature or royalist sympathies.
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY – by STEPHEN FRY
This is volume two and there is to be a volume three. What words describe Stephen Fry : urbane, posh, establishment, intellectual, artist, writer, gay, celibate, Hungarian, privileged, Jewish, popular…. I could go on. And all these aspects of himself he dissects, puts under the microscope in this lengthy volume. But he is never boring, often very funny and hugely thought-provoking.
This is the man who ends volume one in Pucklechurch Youth Offender’s prison in Bristol having been caught for credit card fraud, the man who confesses that volume 3 is going to be dominated by his cocaine addiction. And yet the man who the British love for his documentaries and his chairing of QI, one of the most intelligent comedy quizzes on TV.
Life and Laughing by Michael McIntyre.
Like Stephen Fry, Michael mentions regularly his APPLE MAC and also comes from a public school background (and Eastern European Jewish roots). However, he also comes from a showbiz family, his mother being an actress and his father a script writer most famously for Kenny Everett.
But any similarities soon stop. Michael’s approach to his life is its funny side and the book at times makes you cry with laughter : he tells as good a story on paper as he does on stage. The overall self-depreceating humour alongside some great set pieces, keeps you turning the pages.
But throughout you gain a good picture of the world of stand-up and his many years on the road playing in clubs round the country to little success, his earning of his dues. This is a man who went from selling one ticket to one of his Edinburgh Festival shows to selling half a million tickets on his UK arena tour within a space of 5 years.
He is fairly middle of the road, basing his shows on a mixture of improvising, coming out of chats with audience members, and tried and tested stories of observational humour. He’s a very physical performer, skipping all round the stage and very funny. So is his book : no need of an English degree to read this one, just a good funny bone.
MY SHITE LIFE SO FAR by Frankie Boyle
This book comes with a health warning : don’t show it to any sensitive souls. Frankie, born and bred in GLASGOW, comes from the same tradition as Billy Connolly, sharp as a button street humour but with a killer edge. Most of us know him as the guy on MOCK THE WEEK who could crease up the other stars with his just over the edge comments and jokes.
The first half of the book is about his growing up in a world totally different from the previous two comics, a rougher, working class world. The second half is less linear and, although it maps out his path from small clubs in Scotland to TV success, is also strewn with passages quite in the same tone as his on-screen rants. These are often very funny but sometimes just a little confusing or disturbing.
He says he has no intention of returning to the TV and, now a father, he seems to have calmed down from his acid taking, alcoholic days. At his best, Frankie is a no holds barred critic of all that we hate about modern life and the establishment and he is definitely at the heart of some of my favorite moments of comedy television. But we are left wondering what the future holds for him, what he wants to do and what the media bosses will let him do.
But still a book well worth the money. I lent mine out and its still doing the rounds.
My tune for the day. Back to Black by Amy Winehouse.
Click to play >>>>> Back to Black