The Reading List: Stand-up comedy
Monday 18 April 2011
Last week UK comics voted Daniel Kitson the funniest man in Britain. But what books should budding stand-ups not put down?
How I Escaped My Certain Fate by Stewart Lee, Faber & Faber, £12.99
Ever since the days of This Morning With Rich Not Judy, Lee has been the British comic most-revered by serious comedy fans. His 2010 book mixed a combination of stories about his career along with detailed breakdowns of routines – why he paused there, why he said this word instead of that, etc. The set text for anyone interested in the anatomy of laughs.
Love All the People by Bill Hicks, Constable, £8.99
Where Lee took apart his own work in HIEMCF, this collection of Hicks – the great comic inconoclast – released 10 years after his death, features transcripts of routines that allow the reader to see material evolve over a number of shows. It also includes ideas, letters and a long note to the writer John Lahr after his infamous booting from David Letterman' show.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, Pocket Books, £7.99
A straight telling of Martin's career as a stadium-packing funnyman, Born Standing Up recounts Martin's transition from teenage wannabe magician to comic. Like Lee, Martin technically analysed every element of his work – he'd record, transcribe and refine sets – a perfectionism that, he explains, made his time at the top a depressing one.
Instructions, Guidelines, Tutelage, Suggestions, Other Suggestions and Examples Etc. An Attempted Book by Tim Key, Invisible Dot, £10.95
The off-the-wall poet takes the odd style of his own live sets and translated it to paper for Instructions... Elements include "a design for a shawl" and full-page prose description of a map. It's one of the funniest visions of a comic mind you'll see committed to print.
Getting The Joke: The Art of Stand Up Comedy by Oliver Double, Metheun Drama, £12.99
A one-time experienced stand-up, writer and even a comedy teacher at the University of Kent, Double is as suited as anyone to try and dissect a notoriously ephemeral art-form. In his second attempt, Double reveals technical points of craft and speaks to Eddie Izzard, Shazia Mirza and Jo Brand about how they do what they do.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
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- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Northern Lights in the UK: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Merry Xmas Everybody: Slade tops 'most-streamed' Spotify Christmas tunes of 2014
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever