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When Will I be Famous? [Paperback]

Martin Kelner
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Jun 2003
A trail around the clubs, pubs, functions and shows of our land exploring those crazy folk bent on entertaining us.

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; 1st edition (12 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563487771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563487777
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


A warm, funny and affectionate journey into the chilly backwoods of celebrity, a world I fear Martin Kelner knows only too well. -- Jon Ronson

Anarchic -- Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph

Painfully Funny -- Dave Gorman

few were aware that Martin Kelner was the greatest chronicler of the age but here's the proof. -- Maxim, July, Book of the Month

hilarious dissection of the UK fame game . . . a savagely ridiculous book -- Maxim, July, Book of the Month

From the Author

My publishers, BBC Worldwide, have suggested I comment on my own book. My view is that this makes me appear to be what my children would describe as 'sad', and I should probably call 'desperate'. But, as the BBC's publicity department is busting its ass to promote me as 'exciting new talent', I feel the least I can do is comply. After all, it is very rare for a white middle-class male like me, over 50, ever to be described as any of those things, especially exciting.

Maybe if I had spent 30 years in prison, or had written the book with a ball-point pen inserted into my left nostril after suffering total paralysis in a landmine explosion in Laos, the world would forgive me for being middle-aged and comfortable. Sadly, though, the only thing inserted into my nostril during the composition of my award-winning book was my finger, surreptitiously, at traffic lights. Not very wholesome, I confess, but if the professional footballer Maradonna had followed my lead he might have saved himself a lot of trouble.

As far as the book is concerned, there are, by my reckoning, at least five half-decent jokes in it, and the fun for you, the reader, will be in scouring the 200-odd pages to try and identify them. Where else is such fun on offer for less than the price of a pint in Copenhagen? It's not likely to be made into a film so you might as well buy the book.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a hidden gem 26 Mar 2004
why have I not heard more about this book? I came across it entirely by chance via the Chortle web-site as I am a comedy booker in Birmingham and got the impression the book covered new comedy acts. It doesn't, as it happens, but the small-time acts it does cover are brilliantly captured. I enjoyed the travel element too, especially the chapter about Scarborough, where I spent childhood holidays. All in all, an exceptionally funny book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read 30 Nov 2004
Loved the book. I was the Blonde one in the Abbagirls and the memory of all those wonderful gigs (and the blue eyeshadow) is now forever in print! It was great to compare our lives on the road to that of Sticky Vicky!!! Very funny and very real. If you're in the entertainments business you MUST read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and affectionate survey of showbiz 12 Dec 2003
I work in show business, occasionally busking - last summer in Copenhagen - and am currently playing guitar in a Rolling Stones tribute band, so I have something of an insight into show biz, and Kelner gets it spot on, absolutely spot on. I would love to meet some of the characters in his book and share experiences. A fine book, which I enjoyed reading immensely.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sardonic Peek Into The Showbiz Twilight Zone 15 Oct 2003
The author presents a glimpse into the nether regions of showbiz, that twilight zone where the also-rans dream of a success that will never come. "I have a go, don't I" as a man said, and indeed they do, astonishingly enough. I found this book funny but in a slightly sad way as I sympathised with the plight of the wannabe-famous triers who eat fire, fart Mozart, pretend to be Freddy Mercury or hypnotise 'up-for-it' extroverts then bellyache about their failures and blame others for stealing their ancient 1950's act. Surprisingly the impression that comes across is that the author himself is a wannbe flop as a stand up comic. Read his jokes and you will fully comprehend why this gifted writer has died more deaths than Dracula on the stage. But read this book and you will understand that even being able to produce the flags of 50 nations from ones fanny will not guarantee fame. Only connections guarantee fame, and the characters lined up for examination in this grim encounter with hopeful no-hopers clearly do not know this. Maybe that is the message. Or just good old fashioned: Don't put your daughter on the stage or she may end up with razor-blades hanging out of her pudenda e.g. Sticky Vicky. Read this and forget showbiz, unless you have an urgent need to be applauded by toothless, incontinent, drunken geriatrics. Recommended reading for the Stars In Their Eyes/Pop Idol/Fame School brigade of Karaoke pretenders.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great first attempt 12 Aug 2003
To the best of my knowledge,this is Martin Kelner's first book, and while occasionally it reads more like a collection of newspaper features than a book, it more than lives up to the promise of the author's brilliantly funny weekly column in The Guardian. It may not be Catch 22 but there are more laughs in it than in any book I have read in ages. If you are a fan of Bill Bryson, you will love it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Will I Be Famous? 8 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a humorous, and yet touching, portrait of life on the road for the country's less successful entertainers. There are those who made it a long time ago and are living off their glory days, those who live in hope of making it in the future and those who, frankly, never will. It is a world of pubs, working men's clubs and transit vans.

During this account of life on the road, the author visits bizarre acts in Benidorm, dancers on cruise ships (which seemed the most pleasant option he explored), and spent time in many small venues around the country. Hypnotists, stand up comedians and tribute bands are all represented, as are the hopes, dreams, jealousy, bitterness and resignation he encounters. This is a good read about a little known world, written with great sympathy and respect and I found it extremely interesting and very funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a gift 11 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As before, see previous comment re Sit down and Cheer, Bought for husband after hearing a recommendation of authors other works.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Peter Wade VINE VOICE
We are all trying to get to the front of the elephant

He starts with a joke about someone whose job is to clear up after the circus elephant and as a result has no friends

When encouraged to give up the job he is outraged as he doesn't want to give up show business. We are all trying to get to the front of the elephant. Most of us spend our lives behind it.

I read all the worst reviews first and they were all correct. It wasn't painfully funny and to gain laughs he makes fun or a lot of people but it was done in a way that he actually admires these people for tramping through their lives and entertaining people.

If you have ever done any public performing you will know that it is a thankless task. We are all spoilt by watching television so we expect everything to be of a high standard. Everyone is a critic

To get a laugh you have to take the mickey as it is the easiest way to do it. I am not personally offended by anyone taking the mickey out of me. We are all vaguely ridiculous in our pursuits. I write reviews for Amazon and when I tell the terminally ignorant they look at me in disbelief.

I go to the gym regularly and the terminally unfit look at me in amazement you have to have a thick skin.

The mark of a good book to me is if I get to the end of it in record time.This one I did. It showed me a whole world of entertainers treading the boards to entertain maybe in the hopes of becoming famous but with very little likelihood of becoming so. If you haven't been on telly these days you are nothing, If you aren't still on telly you are nothing so it is an impossible task as they can't all be on telly and famous.

His story about the hypnotist who claimed Paul Mc Kenna stole his act was amusing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
Amusing read as always from this writer, highly recommended, good companion piece to Sit Down and Cheer. Read both if possible
Published 4 months ago by Nigel Craig
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the song....
A detailed telling of the story behind the Bros song When Will I Be Famous came about. Some extraordinary stuff in here that even the most ardent of fan is unlikely to know.
Published 15 months ago by Hazy
5.0 out of 5 stars Human and interesting
I've been a fan of Martin Kelner since I started listening to hid "Dora Dale" radio broadcasts.

This book is as funny, but more human, than the Dora Dale series.
Published on 13 July 2012 by Ransen Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrravens
AAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAA look matan its dowws ravens again non
Published on 14 Aug 2005 by kieran whitehouse
5.0 out of 5 stars A very accurate view in to the other side of show biz
As an entertainer and booker of over 30 years (man and boy!) I found this book after looking on the Abbagirls web site. Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2004 by John Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars a terrific read
I really enjoyed this book. I am afraid I was not aware of the author until I read about the book on the Abbagirls web-site, but I shall seek out his other work. Read more
Published on 12 Dec 2003 by clare larkworthy
1.0 out of 5 stars cheap laughs
A truly unpleasant book, I thought, that tries to camouflage the author's bile by hiding it in a gag heavy format. Read more
Published on 31 Oct 2003 by graham moore
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