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Tommy Cooper: Always Leave Them Laughing: The Definitive Biography of a Comedy Legend [Kindle Edition]

John Fisher
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The first ever intimate portrait of Britain’s best-loved, but little known, comedy entertainer. Fully authorised, and written by Cooper’s friend and colleague John Fisher.

More than just a comedian, Tommy Cooper was a born entertainer. Working in a golden age of British comedy, Cooper stood – literally – head and shoulders above the crowd, and had a magical talent for humour that defied description.

But there was a man behind the laughter that few people saw. John Fisher was Cooper's friend and colleague and witnessed first-hand the moments of self-doubt and inadequacy that contrasted with the genial exterior. Until his tragic death on live television in 1984, Tommy Cooper lived in constant fear of the day he would be found out by his audience. He could never accept the accolades that came so thick and fast from every direction, and died to the sounds of laughter that he never really believed.

Supplementing his own intimate knowledge with material accessed for the first time from the archives of Cooper's agent and manager, Miff Ferrie, and with the full co-operation of the Cooper family, John Fisher's warm, honest and insightful writing skilfully brings alive the man behind the comedic mask in this definitive biography of a comedy legend.



Product Description

Review

'A monumental and masterly biography of the great Cooper.' Daily Mail

'A masterful work that will deservedly find its way into the Christmas stockings of anyone interested in showbiz.'
The Stage

'….it's a measure of how funny he (Cooper) was that this book had me on the floor even when reading about gags I've never seen. Yet this is no hagiography. While it has chapter and verse on how Cooper's comic chaos came into being, it also tells how one of our country's greatest bringers of joy was a boozy, tight-fisted, foul-mouthed, faithless old misery. Add to such background detail some of the best descriptions of physical comedy since Tynan and we have a lot to thank John Fisher for.'
The Sunday Times

‘John Fisher’s biography admirably captures the Cooper magic.’ The Oldie

‘A moving and illuminating showbiz biography. The book deserves a standing ovation.’ Irish Examiner

‘A book with unrivalled access to (and knowledge of) its elusive subject.’ The Independent

‘For all his popularity as one of Britain’s best-loved post-war entertainers, Tommy Cooper’s life away from stage and screen is little known. Fisher’s book does much to change to this.’ Yorkshire Post

From the Inside Flap

More than just a comedian, Tommy Cooper was a born entertainer.
Working in a golden age of British comedy, Cooper stood - literally - head
and shoulders above the crowd, and had a magical talent for humour that
defied description.

With a love of laughter stemming from a magic performance gone wrong when
he was in his teens, Cooper enlisted in the army in 1939 and began to
perfect his comic timing on his army colleagues in the Egyptian desert. The
man with the fez was born.

Cooper was at the heart of the thriving British variety scene, adored by
his legions of fans and much revered by his fellow professionals. But there
was a man behind the laughter that few people saw. John Fisher was Cooper's
friend and colleague and witnessed first-hand the moments of self-doubt and
inadequacy that contrasted with the genial exterior. Until his tragic
death, which occurred in the middle of his act on live television in 1984,
Tommy Cooper lived in constant fear of the day he would be `found out' by
his audience. He could never believe the accolades that came so thick and
fast from every direction, and died to the sounds of laughter that he never
really believed.

Supplementing his own intimate knowledge with material accessed for the
first time from the archives of Tommy's agent and manager, Miff Ferrie, and
with the full cooperation of the Cooper family, John Fisher's warm, honest
and insightful account brings alive the man behind the comedic mask in this
definitive biography of a comedy legend.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reliving Cooper 15 Jan. 2007
By William
Format:Hardcover
If by 'definitive' Fisher and his publishers mean wordy, then it's certainly a fair description of this hefty tome.

Having said that, Cooper fans will enjoy this thoroughly researched and affectionate portrait of one of the greatest British entertainers of the last century. Some of the chapters on the ins and outs of Cooper's career, dealt with in extraordinary detail, might have benefited from some gentle editing. Equally, some may feel they would have liked more on Cooper the man. Fisher does eventually get round to delving into Cooper's personal life, his alcoholism, his other health problems and, of course, his infidelity, but only in any depth during the penultimate chapter.

It's an uneven book, but clearly a work of love by the author and he succeeds in reminding the reader what a great and fascinating man Cooper really was. Fisher retells countless jokes and routines to great effect, so much so that you can almost relive Cooper performing them. And that in itself makes this book a marvellously rewarding read. If Ken Dodd can still fill theatres up and down the land, imagine what Tommy Cooper could do if he were alive today. The mind boggles.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Nobody has a pedigree like John Fisher for writing about Tommy Cooper and, as expected, this is a superb book. Fisher, a TV producer who wrote Funny Way to be a Hero some time ago about variety comedians, worked with Cooper on the box and was responsible for the excellent Heroes of Comedy documentary series - but above all he's literate, takes his subject seriously and his transparent love for the man doesn't mean he conceals his failings although the emphasis is on the development of his craft.

Writing about comedy is difficult - at least I've often been disappointed by what I've read (the Eric Sykes book about his faves barely scratches the surface in most cases, and Simon Louvish - Laurel and Hardy - and Roger Lewis - Sellers - persist in imagining autobiographical pointers in every last scrap of their subjects' material) - but John Fisher's book does not disappoint and is a fitting tribute, especially as its author had access to the papers of Cooper's late agent and the comic's own jottings. The death, incidentally, is dealt with sensitively and movingly.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Comic, Magician....Magician, comic! 1 Jan. 2010
Format:Hardcover
Probably difficult to write a book about a comedian-magician as well known and well-loved as this where everyone has their own treasured memories of him and their own version of his jokes and capers and I think in fairness that the author has done a good job, although it's true this book does drag at times and it has trouble getting started too. It often feels like it's a trawl through Miff Ferrie's (Tommy's long-suffering and somewhat rigid agent) records and sometimes it struggles to get away from being an academic essay where references to bits of information the author feels should go in are pulled into sections where they then sit awkwardly and disturb the reader's flow. I wish truly that there were more photos too, but then you can say that about a lot of biographies.
The author is prone to make awkward and controversial generalizations - see in particular the point about domestic violence and who is the victim near the end of the section Health and Home Affairs.
What did I like about this book? - there are lots of facts and if you're in a mind to store them up and follow them up, then this is the book for you. If you want to get a quite balanced view of Tommy's character and what those closest to him felt and thought, then this is also quite good for that (although it's sadly lacking in material from his wife Gwen; and also from his lover Mary Kay). It's also good for starting you off on the journey of learning about Tommy and the next stop would probably be the Internet for videoclips of some of his acts and performances. However, you won't find a lot of his early material around and the book explains this: in the early days of TV, a lot of programmes were deleted so that the tapes could be reused. Sad, but true.
In summary - it's informative, detailed, balanced and at times downright interesting, capturing quite a lot of the magic of Tommy and his circle of friends and family
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hopes not met 31 July 2007
By GrayGuy
Format:Paperback
I had high hopes of this book. I wanted to find out more about one of the great comedians of the 20th Century. The hopes were not met. The book drags terribly; it attempts to gain an understanding of Tommy by reflecting on other comedians and magicians who could have influenced him. As I do not know many of the acts mentioned, I found it a read that quickly became impenetrable.

I notice from other reviews that folk either seem to love or loathe this book. SO, at the end of the day, I guess it is for other folk to make their minds up about this tome.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this in company! 14 Jan. 2007
Format:Hardcover
Born in Caerphilly, Tommy Cooper is one of Britain's best loved comedy legends.

John Fisher's book is meticulously researched as is plain from the list of contributors whom the author acknowledges.Written with the cooperation of Cooper's family it does not refrain from telling a warts and all story of Tommy.

Many of Tommy's jokes and sketches are excerpted such that I found myself laughing out loud as I read another anecdote of Tommy's wind-ups on colleagues ,partner or wife. To read the book is to realise how lucky and privileged people were to be around the legend that was Tommy Cooper.
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