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A Poke in the Eye (With a Sharp Stick): Amnesty Presents the Best of the Secret Policeman's Ball Hardcover – 4 Oct 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857867342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857867346
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 638,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Slick, well-scripted and savvy . . . freewheeling, contagious and delightful' (Guardian, on the Secret Policeman's Ball 2012)

A sketch about a dead parrot - the opening act on that night at Her Majesty's Theatre 36 years ago - set in motion the now fully ingrained idea of artists lending their high profiles to good causes. Without the Secret Policeman's Ball there may never have been a Comic Relief or a Live Aid. Since then, the poster bills for the regular benefits have featured a who's who of comedy talent . . . Who better to stand up for freedom of speech than those who have made being outspoken an artform? (Telegraph, on the Secret Policeman's Ball 2012)

Book Description

To the mark the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International, Canongate is proud to present a major anthology of the charity's celebrated comedy shows

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Colley on 3 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Secret Policeman's Balls have been a very successful collaboration between Amnesty International and some of Britain's best comedians for the past four decades. This book is an anthology of the most memorable moments from these shows. If you like comedy material you won't find a more comprehensive collection anywhere.

The book has been compiled and edited by comedy historian Graham McCann, who has an excellent track record in this area, and it features a great range of illustrations. It's an invaluable volume because it contains the transcripts of so many classic routines: including The Parrot sketch, the Four Yorkshiremen, the Cheese Shop, the Argument Clinic, Peter Cook's monologues about miners, asps and his brilliant parody of the Thorpe case summing up, Alan Bennett's dictation of a flirtatious telegram, Billy Connolly's account of two drunken Scots in Rome, Rowan Atkinson's schoolmaster routine, Victoria Wood's song 'I've Had It Up To Here With Men', several other Beyond the Fringe routines, Goodness Gracious Me's 'Going For An English,' some stand-up from Dame Edna, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Silverman, Ben Elton, Alexei Sayle, Jack Whitehall and Russell Brand, and on and on they go.

I was also pleased to see included some lesser-known gems, such as Eleanor Bron's very witty monologues, John Cleese and Jonathan Miller's parody of two pompous philosophers (Words and Things), Michael Palin and Terry Jones's attempt to explain the rules of cricket, Bennett and Fortunes 'Men's Talk', Fry and Laurie's Hedge sketch and a very brief but (I thought) very funny observation by Eddie Izzard about Pavlov's experiments with cats!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 4 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I don't know where to start - this is just a fabulous book. There's so many different ways to look at it ~ having written and published my own comedy sketches on Amazon I was keen to get hold of a collection of some of the best sketches out there - this book is just that ~ think of it as a compendium of the best sketches and comedians in Britain from the last 30 or 40 years, but it is more that that.

It is also the story of the Amnesty comedy benefit shows, now known as the Secret Policemen's Balls, the story (to a lesser degree) of Amnesty's work - and a snapshot of the changing styles, tastes and performers in British comedy.

It's just a fantastic book and I'm really enjoying reading it ~ of course some sketches work better than others - but most of it is the creme de la creme and a really great and important collection - not to mention the importance of the reason why the book or the shows exist in the first place.

If you have a conscience or a sense of humour it's hard to see how you could be disappointed by this book.

The book also made me aware of John Cleese's pivotal role in organising the shows (kudos to him) and made me more aware of the genius of Peter Cook :-)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jules 88 on 23 Nov. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is in my top 5 comedy anthologies. It's wonderfully designed - witty, exciting and refreshing.You have access to some of the funniest scripts - including the Dead Parrot Sketch - and Rowan Atkinson's school'master's roll-call. And if you're into more recent comedy, there's also extracts/interviews from Eddie Izzard and Russell Brand. What more could one ask for! Definitely going to buy this for my brother for Christmas. Enjoy all!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Marley on 27 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my Dad's birthday but ended up reading the whole thing before I gave it to him! It's a beautifully-produced book - nice and weighty for the coffee table - and is a real delight to flick through, with just the right amount of pictures and background info. The range of comedians is incredible; everything from John Cleese to Jack Whitehall, via Rowan Atkinson, Eddie Izzard and so many more. And the material is top-notch throughout. I honestly couldn't recommend this book enough if you're looking for a nice present for a comedy fan this Christmas.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
Love Poke in the eye 15 Mar. 2013
By Fanny W. Erickson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The groundbreaking English satire lifts my spirits and I love reading about the history.
So glad this book is available!
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