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

John Fisher
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2007

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.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (1 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007215118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007215119
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 177,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.' The Sunday Times.

‘This book is an accolade to a truly talented and complex man who was much more than just a comic.’ The Sun

' "The definitive biography of a comedy legend" – for once a book lives up to its blurb.'
Michael Parkinson

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

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

‘… a well balanced, very well researched and thoroughly enjoyable book that at times will have you laughing out loud.’ **** The Irish Examiner

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 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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11 of 13 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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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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well written book on a comedy genius 17 Jan 2007
Format:Hardcover
To me, Tommy Cooper was one of the all time greatest comics, and this book really does his legacy justice, and is rich in detail of his personal life and his legendary work.

Although author John Fisher clearly has a great love and respect for Tommy, he's not afraid to detail his weaknesses and faults too - especially his love/hate relationship with his life-long agent - leading to a well balanced, very well researched and thorougly enjoyable book that occasionally made me laugh out loud.

If you are a fan of Tommy, or a fan of classic British comedy and comedians, I can't recommend this book highly enough.

A fitting tribute to a much missed legend of comedy.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing to say the least 16 Mar 2007
By Les
Format:Hardcover
I love Tommy Cooper and I hate books like this. It seems to be written by someone who is intent on showing off his knowledge and his "inside information".

This book is clumsily written, it doesn't flow and it's very hard to read. The author is intent on showing off his knowledge of obscure (and not-so obscure) comedians and magicians and rambles on for page after page, sometimes without mentioning Tommy Cooper. The book could and should have been much shorter - and would then have been much better.

I loved the story about Tommy in the Casbah and the Fez seller - I just hope it's true.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't think Tommy would have liked this book 4 Oct 2007
By Bantam Dave TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Tommy Cooper was one of the funniest men I have ever seen. He had the rare ability to be able to make you laugh just by looking at him; he, above anybody else I can think of, truly had 'funny bones'.
His humour wasn't complicated. He didn't rely on rambling jokes or bad language to get laughs, instead he was able to be funnier than 99.9% of all other performers by simple means - tricks going wrong, the odd bit of slapstick or just by changing the expression on his face.
It seems incongruous then, that Mr Fishers biography of Tommy Cooper is such a long, tedious affair.
No one could dispute that this is an extensive account of Tommy Coopers career, and that no stone has been left unturned in revealing Tommy Cooper the man, the husband, the performer, and also darker areas of his life - his affairs and his love of alcohol in later life.
The problem is that this information is imparted in a very dry fashion and as a result all the humour that we associate with Tommy Cooper is missing. Mr Grant attempts to inject humour by including the dialogue from some of his most famous sketches, but as Tommy Cooper was primarily a visual comic these fall a little flat.
I have a feeling that if Tommy Cooper were to have read this book he would, like me, have grown bored with it long before the end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great
Published 27 days ago by B. J. Clarke
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
unable to review because the book is being saved to read on holiday
Published 2 months ago by susan bagshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars tommy cooper book
Book arrived in excellent condition and as advertised the book was as new condition.The book gave an ecellent insight into Tommy's life. Highly recommended
Published 3 months ago by george paternoster
3.0 out of 5 stars Always leave them laughing
I agree what other reviewers have said. Too much info about agents and contracts could have done with some editing and it wasnt until the last few chapters that I really found out... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ann Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughter all the time
Given away as a gift. The recipient said he has not laughed as much for a long time!
Enjoyed every moment of the book.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Can't see the wood for the trees...
This goes in to so much detail it's unbelievable and, whilst doing so, seems to miss the overall story of the great man. Give it a miss.
Published 5 months ago by Mr. S Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars Book
I found this book to be brilliant just totally awesome the way his story was put is just brilliant totally magic.
Published 7 months ago by Robert Rae Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars A great biography of a comic genius
It is clearly a superb biography and meticulous but rather dull in places when he goes into minute detail about bookings and agents etc. Read more
Published 20 months ago by S Flood
5.0 out of 5 stars So good I bought it twice!!
Didn't get much of a chance to read it myself as my brother bagged it first. So I bought another one for him to take out to Australia when he visits our Dad shortly. Read more
Published 20 months ago by MM
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring!!!
If book awards ever extend to a category for the book which uses the most possible words to deliver the least possible interesting content, look no further - this book is a sure... Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2011 by Ron
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