Author Topic: Biographies of Comedians  (Read 1442 times)

Biographies of Comedians
« on: September 12, 2021, 01:22:15 PM »
Even better - autobiographies....

I'm halfway reading John Barbour's "Your Mother's Not a Virgin!: The Bumpy Life and Times of the Canadian Dropout who changed the Face of American TV!" and it's really good.

Of course, Mort Sahl's "Heartland"..

I have and think I liked Lenny Bruce's (even though I'm not a fan of his) autobiography, "How To Be Dirty And Influence People"

I love comparing them in my head, to see what they include and what they omit from this new style of comedy that boomed in the 1950/60s... If you have any recommendations from that time, whether you liked them or not, I'd be interested.

Too bad Bill Hicks or George Carlin never wrote one.

Magnum Valentino

  • Formerly magval
Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2021, 01:49:27 PM »

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2021, 03:21:17 PM »
Too bad ... George Carlin never wrote one.

But he did - or dictated one, basically... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Words_(book)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2021, 03:37:59 PM by McChesney Duntz »

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2021, 03:37:01 PM »

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2021, 03:39:25 PM »
But he did - or dictated one, basically... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Words_(book)

I have this. In an interview Carlin said it wasn't an autobiography, but a "sortabiography" and Tony Hendra wrote a ton of the book.


Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2021, 03:49:48 PM »
I have this. In an interview Carlin said it wasn't an autobiography, but a "sortabiography" and Tony Hendra wrote a ton of the book.

Yes, fine. Still more autobiographical fact in it than, say, Lenny Bruce's.

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2021, 08:21:51 PM »
Been a long time since I read it but Frank Skinner's first autobiography is very enjoyable. Still quite laddish at that point but does have a genuine honesty to it.

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2021, 08:53:03 PM »
Alexei Sayle's Stalin Ate My Homework and Thatcher Stole My Trousers are both well worth reading. The latter is especially interesting for comedy aficionados.

Echo Valley 2-6809

  • Part of no circle
Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2021, 01:31:54 AM »
I second Alexei Sayle.

Most mainstream comedians' autobiographies are either okay but not essential - eg David Mitchell, Lee Mack - or disappointingly dull - eg Coogan and Brydon. A case of the publishers making an offer they couldn't refuse, I guess.

Graham Chapman's 'A Liar's Autobiography' is essential - over 40 years old and hasn't dated at all.

Similarly playful, revealing and self-critical is Phil Kay's 'The Wholly Viable', a book that probably made him fuck all but had to be written.

Magnum Valentino

  • Formerly magval
Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2021, 08:02:44 AM »
It's not the same. That was "Funniest"..

Gotcha, you want the comedian biographies that aren't funny ;-)

Hobo With A Shit Pun

  • Fuck. You've confused the goat.
Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2021, 12:40:05 PM »
Gotcha, you want the comedian biographies that aren't funny ;-)

Eric Sykes's If I Don't Write This... isn't very funny, but is certainly interesting.
Most iinnteresting (and least funny) detail: I would never have guessed that Sykes was a foillower of Ayn Rand, but there you go, some peopel are just disappointing. And his close friendship with the similarly disappointing Milligan should have warned me.
But, really, Ayn Rand?

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2021, 01:18:28 PM »
Doug Stanhope - This Is Not Fame

(I'd recommend listening to him dictate this)

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2021, 01:39:40 PM »
I know Rik Mayall is a lovely bloke and comedy legend and all that, but I didn't like his autobiography 'Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ'.  It's just the way it's written makes him seem obnoxious, it's fun for the first couple of chapters but a whole book of 'and I was the best and everybody clapped' was just annoying.  Just felt massively overcompensating for a lack of self confidence.  Maybe I didn't read it properly, I dunno.

The bit with the quad bike was good tho.

RHX

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2021, 12:15:00 AM »
Doug Stanhope - This Is Not Fame

(I'd recommend listening to him dictate this)

All of his books are best experienced in audiobook form, I'd say.

Echo Valley 2-6809

  • Part of no circle
Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2021, 02:22:32 AM »
I know Rik Mayall is a lovely bloke and comedy legend and all that, but I didn't like his autobiography 'Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ'.  It's just the way it's written makes him seem obnoxious, it's fun for the first couple of chapters but a whole book of 'and I was the best and everybody clapped' was just annoying.  Just felt massively overcompensating for a lack of self confidence.  Maybe I didn't read it properly, I dunno.

The bit with the quad bike was good tho.

Totally my memory of it too. The parts about the accident and being in hospital were very moving, but the mock-Flashheart narrative was overdone.

It's been 15 years since though - I think I'll try another read of it.

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2021, 02:43:04 PM »
Bob Monkhouse's Crying With Laughter is an excellent autobiography. Very honest in describing his failings and shortcomings.

Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #16 on: Yesterday at 12:04:53 PM »
Simon Day's book is very good. He had problems with addiction and was in borstal so he had plenty to cover.

Echo Valley 2-6809

  • Part of no circle
Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #17 on: Yesterday at 03:43:21 PM »
Bob Monkhouse's Crying With Laughter is an excellent autobiography. Very honest in describing his failings and shortcomings.
If he'd waited a few years longer he could have mentioned his alleged failing and shortcoming with Des O'Connor's 11-year-old daughter.

Magnum Valentino

  • Formerly magval
Re: Biographies of Comedians
« Reply #18 on: Yesterday at 05:28:09 PM »
Simon Day's book is very good. He had problems with addiction and was in borstal so he had plenty to cover.

He's also a terrific writer. Fantastic matter of factness about him and zero fat. I respect him enormously. It's also very very funny.

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