by Lee Mack
About the book: Have you ever wondered where comedians come from? Why is it that one person is a funny bloke down the pub while another actually makes a living by standing up in front of an audience telling jokes? And where does all that material come from? Well, young Lee McKillop used to wonder that too. Growing up in his parents’ pub, small and wiry in a world of bigger and chunkier specimens, Lee quickly learned that cracking jokes was a way to get attention. After a somewhat random series of jobs, which included being Red Rum’s stableboy and a bingo hall barman, it was as a Great Yarmouth holiday camp entertainer that he had his first crack at telling jokes on stage. It got him some laughs, the sack and a punch in the face.* Now, as Lee Mack, he’s one of our best loved and most successful comedians, both as a live stand-up and on television. In Mack the Life, Lee tells the story of how he got there and gives extraordinary insight into what really makes comics tick. Hilarious and brilliant, it’s the kind of book which reminds you why you learned to read in the first place. *Nearly.
by Trevor Noah
About the book: The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his focus inward, giving readers a deeply personal, heartfelt and humorous look at the world that shaped him. Noah was born a crime, son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the first years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, take him away. A collection of eighteen personal stories, Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy growing into a restless young man as he struggles to find his place in a world where he was never supposed to exist. Born a Crime is equally the story of that young man's fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother - a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Noah illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and an unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a personal portrait of an unlikely childhood in a dangerous time, as moving and unforgettable as the very best memoirs and as funny as Noah's own hilarious stand-up. Born a Crime is a must read.
by Jo Brand
About the book: Jo Brand is one of Britain's funniest and best-loved comedians. With a sharp eye for the absurd and in her own unique voice she tells her story for the first time. What possessed her to become a professional comedian in the cut-throat world of stand-up comedy after ten years as a psychiatric nurse? How did she deal with late night drunken audiences? Raised in middle class comfort, she left home in her teens to live with someone entirely inappropriate. Her parents were aghast at her behaviour and attempted to rein in her excesses, finally giving up when she demonstrated that she was not headed for the life of a nun. From her early years growing up in a small south coast town with two brothers who toughened her up, to emerging on stage as 'The Sea Monster', Jo Brand tells it like it is with wit, candour and a wonderful sense that life can be ridiculous but there's always a funny side.Jo Brand is one of Britain's funniest and best-loved comedians. With a sharp eye for the absurd and in her own unique voice she tells her story for the first time.
by Jo Brand
About the book: A genuinely funny and original novel about mental illness, growing up and parental breakdown from much-loved comedienne Jo Brand. Alice is five, and convinced she needs five personalities to cope. Her family, tucked in a cottage in deepest Herefordshire, are a bit weird. Her mother Gina is obsessed with the weatherman on the local news and when she climbs naked onto the roof with Alice's pet guinea pig in her arms, she is whisked off to the local psychiatric hospital. Keith, Alice's father, tries to keep calm, but his patience is severely tested by his in-laws. The only thing that gives Alice's hope is her love for Morrissey of The Smiths...
by Sandi Toksvig
About the book: How do you get rid of unwanted guests? What do you do if there's a racket in the quiet carriage? How should you eat peas, and behave in queues? How to behave, like how to punctuate, is an aspect of life that many are no longer taught - and getting it wrong is the stuff of comedy at best and humiliation at worst. Thankfully, Sandi Toksvig has come to the rescue with her entertaining guide to modern manners,with tips on what to do whether you're talking to a bore, or forgot their name in the first place. (Just call them 'darling'.) The award-winning Radio 4 broadcaster and writer offers guidance on the social pitfalls of every phase of life, from christenings to condolence letters. With characteristic wit and perceptiveness, and revealing the trickiest of her encounters along the way, she highlights decency rather than convention and provides an essential guide to twenty-first century behaviour. Now this down-to-earth, hilarious guide is available in perfect pocket-sized paperback size.
by Alan Davies
About the book: Alan Davies was always a hoarder. Pages from Smash Hits, rolled-up gig posters, Cup Final ticket stubs, Woody Allen paperbacks, NME covers and Blondie calendars filled boxes once used to ferry shopping home from supermarkets (back when supermarkets would leave boxes out for the ferrying of shopping). Not much that came down from Alan's bedroom wall made it into the bin, never mind the uninvented bin-liner. Growing up is not easy. So many desicions: who to revere, Sheene or McEnroe? Who to imitate, Starsky or Hutch? Who to dislike overnight in an effort to show maturity, Thatcher or Scargill? How to decide which pin-ups to unpin when a batch of Animal Rights leaflets or a satirical poster of Ronald Reagan demand wall space? The Impressionable Age of a young man lasts around a decade and the idols and icons of that period can reveal muh of the time and of the impressed subject. Nostalgic, warm and laugh-out-loud funny, My Favourite People & Me 1978 - 1988 is an affectionate trip through a suburban childhood in Essex and an eighties education in Kent. As Alan says, 'an attempt to remember who and what I liked as a boy/youth/idiot and to work out why. There are also some pictures.
by Phill Jupitus
About the book: Why exactly would a nationally successful stand up comedian chuck in the exhilaration and freedom of life on the road for endless Coldplay singles, arguments with BBC management, incredibly expensive coffee, and an alarm clock set to 4:30am, five days a week? When the BBC decided to launch a brand new digital radio station that would play alternative music for truly passionate music fans, their first port of call was to elicit the services of Phill Jupitus. With a record collection that ran the gamut from calypso to techno, and a love of radio inspired by his childhood hero John Peel, Phill seemed the perfect choice to launch 6 Music. Phill readily accepted, determined to do something different with such an unexpected yet brilliant opportunity. Little did he know what lay ahead. With the weighty advice of such broadcasting behemoths as Terry Wogan, Steve Wright and Tony Blackburn ringing in his ears, Jupitus tried to shake up the world of breakfast radio for the better one tune at a time. Were the public ready for something new? But more importantly, did they even want it? In Good Morning Nantwich, Phill Jupitus not only discovers the answer but finds out what really makes the listening nation tick first thing in the morning.