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Biographies of Comedians

Started by MortSahlFan, September 12, 2021, 01:22:15 PM

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MortSahlFan

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.


McChesney Duntz

September 12, 2021, 03:21:17 PM #2 Last Edit: September 12, 2021, 03:37:59 PM by McChesney Duntz
Quote from: MortSahlFan on September 12, 2021, 01:22:15 PM
Too bad ... George Carlin never wrote one.

But he did - or dictated one, basically... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Words_(book)


MortSahlFan

Quote from: McChesney Duntz on September 12, 2021, 03:21:17 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.


McChesney Duntz

Quote from: MortSahlFan on September 12, 2021, 03:39:25 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.

paruses

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.

olliebean

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

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

Quote from: MortSahlFan on September 12, 2021, 03:37:01 PM
It's not the same. That was "Funniest"..

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

Hobo With A Shit Pun

Quote from: Magnum Valentino on September 13, 2021, 08:02:44 AM
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?

MortSahlFan

Doug Stanhope - This Is Not Fame

(I'd recommend listening to him dictate this)

Sonny_Jim

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

Quote from: MortSahlFan on September 14, 2021, 01:18:28 PM
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

Quote from: Sonny_Jim 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.

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.

robprosser

Bob Monkhouse's Crying With Laughter is an excellent autobiography. Very honest in describing his failings and shortcomings.

Tony Yeboah

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

Quote from: robprosser 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.
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

Quote from: Tony Yeboah on September 16, 2021, 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.

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.

PeterCornelius

September 19, 2021, 11:15:13 AM #19 Last Edit: September 19, 2021, 11:43:04 AM by PeterCornelius
Quote from: Echo Valley 2-6809 on September 16, 2021, 03:43:21 PM
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.

I did a search for this but couldn't find anything?

It's ok, I found the tweet. Shocking

steveh

Am about halfway through Marty Feldman's eyE Marty autobiography which is an enjoyable, funny read and fills in various bits I never knew about. The stuff about him having left home at 14 and then ending up sleeping rough in Soho is kinda alarming and there's unexpected things like meeting Dylan Thomas in Soho pubs and him liking his poems and helping get a collection of Marty's published at only 15 or 16.

It also mentions that Marty and Michael Bentine recorded three TV shows for ATV in the 1960s which were never aired and which I assume are now lost.

paruses

Quote from: Tony Yeboah on September 16, 2021, 12:04:53 PMSimon Day's book is very good. He had problems with addiction and was in borstal so he had plenty to cover.

Bought this on the back of this post and don't regret it at all. I read it all in the voice of Billy Bleach (which is just Simon Day turned up to 11) and at least get a big smile on every page.

Just laughing at him going to see David Essex - "the finest of the gypsy entertainers" - at the cinema. That's not to say it isn't sensitively and affectionately written.

MortSahlFan

Dov Davidoff - Life and Reflections from the Road as a Stand-up Comic

For those who don't know him, "Filthy Operation" is an excellent stand-up special and might still be on YouTube.

shlug

More of a detailed transcript of his live shows but the autobiographical parts in between transcripts in How I Escaped My Certain Fate are interesting reads if only to get the context behind some of Stewart Lee's bits.

Ham Bap

Mel Brooks autobiography came out this week.
Probably worth a read.

Twonty Gostelow

Quote from: Ham Bap on December 02, 2021, 06:39:37 PMMel Brooks autobiography came out this week.
Probably worth a read.

Haven't read it yet, but I've seen a handful of reviews saying there's not much valuable introspection in it, and it's mostly Brooks in his talk show aren't-I-great? voice. Better in small doses.
I haven't got around to reading 'Funny Man', a biography of him from 2 or 3 years ago that didn't paint him prettily. I think he was threatening to sue.

Twonty Gostelow

SMBH, if you're reading: I've only just found out that your uncle published his autobiography in 2017 - I didn't see any reviews at the time. Anyway, I've just started the 5-series box set of Keep it in the Family (eat your heart out, Glebe) in which he's daftly funny and charming, and wondered if you'd read it yourself yet.

Keebleman

Harry Thompson's biography of Peter Cook is superb, as full a picture of the man, his work and his times as you could hope for.

Harpo Speaks is on my to read list after hearing lots of recommendations for it.

Quote from: PeterCornelius on September 19, 2021, 11:15:13 AMI did a search for this but couldn't find anything?

It's ok, I found the tweet. Shocking

I couldn't find it but if it's about Monkhouse having Yew Tree tendencies Josie Long said he groped her when she was, I think, 14?