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How I Escaped My Certain Fate
 
 

How I Escaped My Certain Fate [Kindle Edition]

Stewart Lee
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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Review

'Lee's bumper DVD extras-style assemblage echoes the revelatory sprawl of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.... 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.' -- Ben Thompson, Independent on Sunday>> ' (A) fascinatingly detailed account of what inspired, motivated and influenced his creativity ... the trials, insecurities and passions that have fuelled him over the past ten years are so honestly, amusingly, eloquently, and, often, viciously expressed that it only serves to further confirm his position as one of our leading 'alternative' national treasures. -- Time Out>> 'It s a simply remarkable piece of writing: funny, wise, partial, propulsive. And then there are the footnotes, which comment on the shows like some frank, deliciously-detailed DVD commentary ... His writing ... has the irony, honesty, petulance and righteous zeal that we Lee fans demand ... an essential, invigorating investigation into the art, craft and culture of stand-up comedy. -- Dominic Maxwell, The Times >> Required reading for comedy fans ... (Lee) is analytical, critical and perfectly willing to say when he finds himself proud of something he wrote, or occasionally ashamed. It is a fascinating insight into the process of creating comedy, and making months of work feel like a fresh, spontaneous show each night ... This book should win him some new fans and cement the dislike of old detractors. And it's impossible to imagine he would ever choose to do anything else. --Natalie Haynes, Observer

His marginalia offer an absorbing history of alternative comedy since the late 1980s, affectionate pen-portraits of misunderstood heroes, such as Johnny Vegas and Simon Munnery, and fascinating insights into his craft ... the wonderful achievement of this book is that it makes you as excited as Lee is by the capabilities of a man in a dark room with a microphone. -- Richard Godwin, Evening Standard>> It rules! Have you ever noticed how transcripts of stand-up shows can make for some of the best fun material going? ... so long, so bitter and so thoroughly enjoyable. --Dazed and Confused>> Funny, honest and insightful throughout. It deserves to make its author even more than he appeared on HIGNFY ... like the author s stage act, it is elliptical, repetitious and, inevitably, solipsistic. But in a good way ... in the hands of a lesser talent, this would be unbearably tedious, but Lee s verbal dexterity and exhaustive knowledge manages to make the experience cumulatively hilarious. --John Naughton, Word magazine

it works brilliantly ... complementing the very well-written autobiographical narrative that connects the routines and the footnotes are such rich mini-essays that I reached the end wishing there was an index, in order to relocate such observations as Lee s comparison of the Mighty Boosh s offbeat comic timing to dried stalks of spaghetti being dropped onto a china plate . How I Escaped My Certain Fate is a sophisticated demonstration of the poetics of comedy by an artist who, like Wilde, has been moved to public contrarianism in the belief that there is no sin except stupidity . -- Jeremy Noel-Todd, Daily Telegraph>> It s a sort of autobiography, but really just as much a book about the way British comedy has changed ... 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. --William Cook, Independent

You warm to Lee through the very distance he knowingly creates between himself and the reader, providing a morbidly fascinat --William Cook, Independent

'An excellent book, this ... [Lee] deconstructs his comic material, which is fascinating. There are bits which are amazingly funny, for sure. But the best thing about this book is it deep intellectual grasp of comedy itself.' -- Evening Standard>> 'Three transcripts of some of the funniest stand-up shows you're likely to see. A full introduction and extensive annotations reveal the in-depth workings of a comic genius.' -- Venue>> 'Truculent, unpredictable and sporadically brilliant ... Lee's footnotes contain as many conceptual leaps and subversive riffs as his live act.' -- Sunday Telegraph>> 'I was in the audience for all three of these shows. They were hilarious then and they're still hilarious on the page ... the material is non-arch, uncynical, energetic, genuine, modest, original and as spiky as a range of mountains. Oh, and did I say hilarious?' --Independent on Sunday

it works brilliantly ... complementing the very well-written autobiographical narrative that connects the routines and the footnotes are such rich mini-essays that I reached the end wishing there was an index, in order to relocate such observations as Lee s comparison of the Mighty Boosh s offbeat comic timing to dried stalks of spaghetti being dropped onto a china plate . How I Escaped My Certain Fate is a sophisticated demonstration of the poetics of comedy by an artist who, like Wilde, has been moved to public contrarianism in the belief that there is no sin except stupidity . -- Jeremy Noel-Todd, Daily Telegraph>> It s a sort of autobiography, but really just as much a book about the way British comedy has changed ... 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. --William Cook, Independent

Book Description

How I Escaped My Certain Fate, by Stewart Lee, is the bestselling book by acclaimed stand-up comedian, revealing the inside workings of his award-winning act.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 729 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction; 1st Edition edition (19 Aug. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0042JSPTI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,257 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deadly serious, hilarious book. 29 July 2010
Format:Paperback
This book is perhaps the funniest book I have ever read. Stewart Lee has consistently been one of the funniest comedians in the country and his apparently arrogant yet always self-deprecating style has been brilliantly realised on the page. He shows a thoughtfulness and integrity that puts previous controversies about his work into context and also provides a fascinating peek behind the subjects of his stand-up set to reveal complexity, planning and yet more humour behind them.

One of the things that stands out about his stand-up work is how much of it he does to amuse himself, and how he is well aware and largely in control of alienating and regaining his live audiences.

The transcripts of his live sets are really interesting as the copious footnotes give them new depth, but they read pretty well too - although probably better for having watched the sets on dvd. I can't recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in Stewart Lee in particular or stand up in general. It will make you laugh.

One thing, if you're easily offended, then I would urge you to read this book - you'll be offended, but it raises a lot of ideas about why you might be offended, and why Stewart Lee has bothered to offend you.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of brilliant comedy 8 Dec. 2010
By kath
Format:Paperback
This book is as compelling as a thriller, as thought-provoking as a philosophical treatise and as beautifully written as any literary novel. And it's funny; as funny as...well, as funny as seeing Stewart Lee perform live. Or almost. Having seen all of the routines transcribed here I was hearing Lee's unique delivery of every line and remembering the (sometimes uncomfortable) silences, the shouts and whispers and the occasional startling physicality in the routines. Readers not familiar with the live acts will certainly want to seek them out on DVD after reading them here and comedy enthusiasts and fans of exhilarating prose everywhere will find plenty to enjoy.

The pleasure for me was in discovering the minute workings of the routines, their carefully crafted structure, the precisely chosen word or phrase that sets up a linguistic or imaginative collision that keeps the audience suspended in a brilliant comic moment. Lee harnesses all his formidable comedic and intellectual powers to skewer the crass and the cruel, the dumbed-down mainstream and the self-regarding celebrity elite. He is both deadly serious and richly, sometimes absurdly, comic. And it is comedy that is always about something, always underpinned by the passions and preoccupations of an intelligent and idealistic man unafraid to challenge and even alienate his audience to make his point. But for all the seriousness of purpose Lee's performances are, first and foremost, brilliantly funny and original and this book is a valuable and enjoyable commentary upon them. "How I escaped..." is a mixture of copiously and fascinatingly footnoted transcripts of three live shows and autobiographical content that charts Lee's early career and fluctuating fortunes on the circuit.
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82 of 93 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the Kindle version 14 Jun. 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
The Kindle version of this book is riddled with typos and mysterious line breaks. I can forgive the odd typo of two but not when they appear with such consistency that they destroy the flow and enjoyment of a book.

The most regularly occurring mistake is the word Comedian which mostly appears split into 'Com' and 'edian' - not something you really want in a book about a standup comedian. There are also numerous instances where lines are mysteriously broken, half way across. Granted, these mistakes don't render the book unreadable. But they are an unwanted distraction - a bit like an annoying click on a CD.

Having created a few ebooks myself, I know exactly how these typos occurred. Word Processing programmes like Word insert all kinds of mysterious hidden spaces and breaks that don't show up in most situations but do when you create an ePub or mobi files. That's why publishers should proofread their ebooks on devices like Kindles as well manuscripts printed from PDFs. It doesn't cost a lot of money. It doesn't take very much time. But unfortunately, such is the attitude of publishers to ebooks, most of them couldn't be bothered.

The most infuriating thing? The e-version of this book costs more than the paper version!

I thought long and hard before posting this review. The book Stewart Lee has written doesn't deserve a one-star review. As the other reviewers have testified it is funny, thoughtful and well-written. But the Kindle version, as a product, is faulty. It has flaws that render it unfit for purpose and people thinking of buying it should be warned.

Sadly, it's the only way to make publishers pick up their game. Bad reviews on Amazon upset authors and their agents. It's the only thing publishers react to.

My advice? Save a pound - and the aggravation - and buy the paperback version instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the whole, a bit thin on quilts. 7 Aug. 2012
Format:Paperback
Comparisons are, in common with Lee himself, odious but he comfortably could be ranked alongside comedic luminaries such as Tom O'Connor, John Smith and Nick Clegg. Of course, I know nothing about comedy and this book isn't aimed at me. It proves that through its deployment of facts.

Several names cited here as key influences on the nascent Stew are unknown to me and possibly to science. These people apparently have contributed to his becoming the wretched, marginalised figure he is today reduced to having to allow Armando Iannucci, a tiresome CGI-generated rodent character I believe, a cameo on his show presumably as payback for something unsavoury in the past.

Anyway, apart from the paucity of detailed information about quilts, quilt-making and quilt people, the only real sour note in the book is a frankly shocking admission to having once bought an album by the tribute band Oasis.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting...
I have all the sets on either DVD or audio, but what I like about this book is the footnotes and the prefaces. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Steve Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, ahahahahaha. Ah, no really.
I was fence sitting for a while over this, but it is genuinely hilarious. Anyone who doesn't find Stewart Lee funny is stupid. There, I said it.
Published 26 days ago by Mr. T. Howden
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good for fans of Stewart Lee
Very good for fans of Stewart Lee. Could also potentially be interesting for people who don't like his comedy, as it might explain a bit about what he's trying to achieve and allow... Read more
Published 27 days ago by L Norman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really good book to read
Published 1 month ago by missbrown
4.0 out of 5 stars No Escape
How do you classify this book
Biography? In part, but nothing like the kind of celebrity memoir you might expect.
Comedy? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kevin Treweeks
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book
The book worked for me on several levels. I am the same age as Stewart Lee and remember the 80's 90's 'our thing' alternative comedy scene and it's later distortion for mass... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Leon Capon
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Read - A Real Page Turner
A superb and gorgeously written tome by probably the smartest and most dynamic stand up in the country right now. Read more
Published 4 months ago by KJ
5.0 out of 5 stars but recipient was delighted
Bought as a gift, but recipient was delighted
Published 4 months ago by VMJ
4.0 out of 5 stars A few to many pages.
There was maybe one or two to many pages in this book, however it wasn't that bad in the end.
Published 4 months ago by Aaron
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites and one of the best, so often misunderstood it...
One of my favourites and one of the best, so often misunderstood it seems (how) and even his thorough explanations in this book will not help those who don't 'get him', still a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by simon lw
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