How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian

Stewart Lee

How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian

In 2001, after over a decade in the business, Stewart Lee quit stand-up, disillusioned and drained, and went off to direct a loss-making opera about Jerry Springer. How I Escaped My Certain Fate details his return to live performance, and the journey that took him from an early retirement to his position as one of the most critically acclaimed stand-up in Britain. Here is Stewart Lee’s own account of his comeback, told through transcripts of the three full-length shows that sealed his reputation. 4.3 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Humour, Biography
Format Paperback
Pages 384
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication August 2010
ISBN 978-0571254804
Publisher Faber & Faber
 

In 2001, after over a decade in the business, Stewart Lee quit stand-up, disillusioned and drained, and went off to direct a loss-making opera about Jerry Springer. How I Escaped My Certain Fate details his return to live performance, and the journey that took him from an early retirement to his position as one of the most critically acclaimed stand-up in Britain. Here is Stewart Lee’s own account of his comeback, told through transcripts of the three full-length shows that sealed his reputation.

Reviews

The Independent on Sunday

Ben Thompson

As Lee's routines feel their way towards a perfect fusion of form and content, his acidic commentary cuts through the fatty build-up of showbiz convention with a stringency that the makers of Cillit Bang would be proud of… Stewart Lee has created a book which is at once a notable repository of technical insight, an invaluable insider's guide to three decades of British comedy, and as revealing a portrait of its author's life and opinions as even the most self-consciously confessional of conventional celebrity memoirs.

15/08/2010

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The Times

Dominic Maxwell

It’s a simply remarkable piece of writing: funny, wise, partial, propulsive… Lee’s determination to explain where he’s coming from adds up to an essential, invigorating investigation into the art, craft and culture of stand-up comedy.

31/07/2010

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The Daily Telegraph

Jeremy Noel-Tod

What might have been a recycling exercise for unsold DVDs becomes by turns a history of contemporary British comedy, a masterclass in joke-making, an essay on the relationship between art and society, and a movingly oblique autobiography. The key to it all is the discovery, halfway through the story, of the artistic truth that form is content. The result is a spoken style that, with all its hesitations, digressions and repetitions, works surprisingly well on the page.

20/08/2010

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The Observer

Natalie Haynes

...required reading for comedy fans... It is a fascinating insight into the process of creating comedy, and making months of work feel like a fresh, spontaneous show each night. But the risk with trying to record a stand-up performance in any medium is that it loses some of what makes it good.

01/08/2010

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The Independent

William Cook

The bulk of the book consists of transcriptions of three live shows. Lee annotates these transcripts with lengthy footnotes, so extensive that at times they almost eclipse the main text. Usually, such copious asides are the sign of a very bad book but Lee pulls it off, mainly because his notes are invariably insightful, and frequently very funny. There are a few bum notes. The various appendices dilute the book's dramatic impact, and Lee's shaggy dog story about vomiting into the mouth (and anus) of Jesus Christ reads as wretched, rather than daring.

13/08/2010

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