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 review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 Dylan Moran on quitting smoking, being about as sexy as the Pope and why comedy panel programmes are 'c*ck shows'
- 5 Modern society encapsulated in five seconds
Poldark, review: Demelza’s insouciance is almost as impressive as Ross’ pecs
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Menstruation-themed photo series artist 'censored by Instagram' says images are to demystify taboos around periods
Jeremy Clarkson Top Gear return: Suspended host set for live event in Norway next week
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans