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Funny Way to be a Hero [Hardcover]

John Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Jun 1973

The stand-up comedian is our hero. Unchanged fundamentally since the days of the Music Hall, he – and occasionally she – has been a waspish or laconic or outrageous commentator on politics, sex, work, friends and the family.

In Funny Way to be a Hero John Fisher traces the traditions of the music hall comedian as they are handed down through the great British comics of the twentieth century. Dan Leno, the Crazy Gang, Will Hay and Max Miller are seen to pass the baton to the great radio comics like Arthur Askey, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd and the Goons. In time Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper, Benny Hill, the Two Ronnies and Ken Dodd are seen to hold the flame.

The comedians understand us as no-one else, and in this brilliantly original and funny book John Fisher comes close to understanding them, what makes us laugh and the connecting themes in their humour and our responses. Quoting widely from their acts, he approaches the essence of their art: 'The best book about twentieth-century British entertainers I have ever read.' (The Times)

First published in 1973 when he was in his late 20s John Fisher's Funny Way to be a Hero is regarded as the finest book ever written on 20th century comedians and comedy. Fisher in his career as a television producer went on to become a friend to many of the subjects written about in his book. Forty years later he has revised and expanded the original from this perspective and added six new chapters. With spectacular new design and over 350 illustrations, many never published before, this will be a landmark publication.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: TBS The Book Service Ltd; First Edition edition (18 Jun 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0584100973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0584100976
  • Product Dimensions: 28.2 x 20.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,356,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"If you want a book about all the great British comics, I can’t think of a better one than Fisher’s … all written about with great affection and a detailed knowledge of their routines and jokes." (Mature Times)

"Substantial, insightful, and extremely enjoyable" (The Stage) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

A completely new edition of the 'best book on British entertainers ever written'. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny people 2 Jun 2010
By GlynLuke TOP 500 REVIEWER
Never seem to see this in 2nd-hand shops and I`m fairly sure it`s long been unavailable new. A great pity, as John Fisher (well-known TV producer and more recent biographer of Hancock & Tommy Cooper) has written a loving, not to mention exhaustive, tribute to British comedians from the days of Music Hall onwards.
His capsule descriptions of what made, say, Jimmy James, Max Wall or Frankie Howerd special are a joy - rather in the same way (though in a very different style) that David Thomson writes in his great book on film. In a few words and, happily, many excerpts from comedians` acts, he brings them to life `before your very eyes`.
My copy fell apart (one of those paperbacks from the 70s whose pages were stuck together with a scant view to posterity) so beware how you buy.
You`ll rarely find a better book on comedy and comedians, so carefully & joyously written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly wonderful collection of comedy greats 20 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have my own list of comedy greats.
It matches with those subjects the superb entertainment writer portrays so precisely.
In common with other books by John Fisher, it is written with warmth, affection and original insight.
It is a compendium to be treasured...certainly I found it hard to put down as it makes for compulsive reading.
This is one to take pride in a comedy hero collection. Worth every penny and beautifully written
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny Business 25 Jan 2014
By Mr. D. K. Smith TOP 100 REVIEWER
Originally published in 1973, this new 2013 edition is a substantial update - featuring six new chapters as well as numerous other additions, revisions and observations.

The name of John Fisher should be well known to anybody interested in classic British comedy. As a producer he worked with many of the greats, whilst the long-running C4 series Heroes of Comedy (which he wrote and produced) was a first-rate series, celebrating the cream of British entertainers. His biographies of George Formby, Tommy Cooper and Tony Hancock are also well worth reading, particularly the Hancock biography - by far the best book ever written about this complex man.

Funny Way To Be A Hero examines thirty of so comedy legends, mostly drawn from the music hall tradition. Some, like 'Monsewer' Eddie Gray, Ted Ray and Sid Field may not be so familiar to modern audiences - but as Fisher says in his introduction, they are only a click away on YouTube and part of his strength as an writer is that his love and respect for his subjects will often inspire the reader to investigate further.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on 20th Century comedians 15 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The original 1973 version has been constantly with me since I first found a copy in a Leeds bookshop. The title stuck with me and I even named my comedy club "Funny Way To Be" as a result. The new version is carefully updated and added too with reflections and fab illustrations. If you have any interest in comedy of the last century, how things connect and how comics are this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 12 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's what it said it is.
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