Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Take a stack of well-thumbed memoirs, a cast of comedians and actors, and lashings of deadpan delivery, and you have the makings of a cult hit. Fresh from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, the New York hit show Celebrity Autobiography arrives in the West End next week, giving UK audiences another chance to marvel at the writerly pretensions of the rich and famous, or at least infamous .
"We couldn't make this stuff up", says Eugene Pack, the Emmy-nominated creator of the show. "Every single word was written by them. The more mundane it is, the better." Pack had the idea a decade ago when he came across the memoirs of Vanna White, best known as the "puzzle-board turner" on Wheel of Fortune. "There was a whole chapter on how challenging it is to flip the panels. I just started reading it out in a deadpan voice; it was hilarious." From a one-off comedy night in LA, featuring the musings of Diana Ross and Mr T, the show has gone on to enjoy three sold-out years at the Triad Theatre off-Broadway and has been filmed for television, while Brooke Shields, Ryan Reynolds and Matthew Broderick have all dropped in to perform.
The Edinburgh cast included Ugly Betty's waspish Michael Urie, who returns for the London run alongside comedians Doon Mackichan and Rufus Hound while Pack is keen to invite some high-profile stars – Stephen Merchant and David Tennant are high on his list – for guest spots at what he hopes will become a monthly night. Having already trawled 300 autobiographies, he's unlikely to run out of material any time soon. Might he find space for a snippet from the hottest political memoirs of the year? "I honestly don't think we'll do Tony Blair. I don't want to get things thrown at us."
Leicester Square Theatre, London (www.leicestersquaretheatre.com) 4 to 9 October, then 8 Nov, 13 Dec, 10 JanReuse content