Comedy books for Christmas
Sunday 15 December 2013
Sometimes it can be empowering to know you have nothing left to lose – that, at least, is the theory behind the birth of “my nemesis and my deliverer”, as Michael Pennington describes his alter ego in Becoming Johnny Vegas (HarperCollins, £20). In a thoroughly entertaining memoir, Pennington is also acute in his psychological evisceration of his own drunken shambles of an act.
Billy Crystal, meanwhile, is Still Foolin’ ’Em (Henry Holt, £20). Here, he explains his attitude to turning 65 and looks back over an exhilarating career. There are a few too many references to baseball for a British palate, but Crystal has a lovely turn of phrase, and his anecdotes are delivered with machine-gun pace.
Rob Delaney’s Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. (Blackfriars, £8.99) takes its name from his profile on Twitter, where he made his name. From shoplifting to bed-wetting, this is remarkably confessional, while also being moving. Confession also makes an appearance in Paul Kerensa’s So a Comedian Walks Into a Church … (Darton Longman, £8.99). An Anglican, he attends whichever churches he finds near his gigs – be they Methodist in Cornwall or Pentecostal in Guernsey. The religious side provides a droll education; the gigs often amusing for the sheer lack of audience.
Viv Groskop comes up against something similar in I Laughed, I Cried (Orion, £11.99), in which she attempts to play 100 gigs in 100 days. Groskop is terrific on the strain it puts on her family, and provides wonderful summaries of each performance: day 26’s, for example, is in what appears to be a “dungeon with an atmosphere of doom”; literally no one turns up.
A regular on the US club circuit, Fred Stoller provides a lesson in how not to make it big with Maybe We’ll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star (Skyhorse, £15.40). A veteran of more than 70 sitcoms, he offers nuggets about writing for Seinfeld and appearing on Friends. Al Murray, meanwhile, has been Watching War Films with My Dad (Century, £16.99), in which he chronicles his fascination with all things militarily historical with flair, wit and joy.
Crawley stand-up Ian Moore is not always so enthralled by his new surrounds in the Loire Valley, where he develops fatigue from commuting and taking care of horses. His A la Mod (Summersdale, £8.99) is as much about the difficulties of rural life as it is being a Mod in France – and is all the better for it.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Licence fee: What is the BBC charge – and how will the changes affect you?
- 3 This is what the photographer has to say about the picture of a weasel riding a woodpecker
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'