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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exactly not what I expected...
As a long-time fan of Richard Herring (yes, I was at the Lee and Herring live recording all those years ago...), I was really looking forward to reading this book. And it gave me everything I wanted, albeit not in the way I was expecting it. I anticipated a peek into Richard's private and professional life - which I got - but not the amount of self-doubt, soul-searching...
Published on 30 Aug 2010 by T. Donbavand

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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Never meet/read about your heros
Richard Herring has co written some of the best comedy of the last 20 years but somehow misses completely with this book. I was left feeling a bit sad after reading it, i felt that this man was a bit of a git. Never ever meet your heros or in this case read about them. Most of the book is filled up with references to his sexual conquests all of which seem to make him...
Published on 15 Oct 2010 by fenned01


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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Never meet/read about your heros, 15 Oct 2010
Richard Herring has co written some of the best comedy of the last 20 years but somehow misses completely with this book. I was left feeling a bit sad after reading it, i felt that this man was a bit of a git. Never ever meet your heros or in this case read about them. Most of the book is filled up with references to his sexual conquests all of which seem to make him whine a lot. To conceal the fact he is a fanny rat he sprinkles a bit of self loathing over each ancedote but still gives you the impression hes a ladies man on the sly. If fans are mentioned in the book then they are only done so based on how attractive they are to him. Most males in the book are seen as annoying competition and just in the way of any potential shag. I felt most sad when he was refering to fans who try and chat with him about his work, he seems to hold them with contempt unless of course they are pretty girls who are willing to nosh him off. The most annoying thing about this book is i still like his work he is a genuinely funny person though in real life is probably an arsehole. I suppose after 20 years in show biz you get a bit up yourself i just feel that its a shame he had to tell us about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exactly not what I expected..., 30 Aug 2010
By 
T. Donbavand (Northumberland, UK) - See all my reviews
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As a long-time fan of Richard Herring (yes, I was at the Lee and Herring live recording all those years ago...), I was really looking forward to reading this book. And it gave me everything I wanted, albeit not in the way I was expecting it. I anticipated a peek into Richard's private and professional life - which I got - but not the amount of self-doubt, soul-searching and downright personal feeling that the book is filled with. I can't remember reading an autobiography with such honesty before - honesty that doesn't always paint Richard in the kindest of lights. And that's where you'll be surprised, possibly shocked. If you're expecting a showbiz biog about how great and blessed a life the subject has enjoyed - look elsewhere. But if you want to know what life is like for a single man approaching what he's always been told is the age he should have everything sorted by - you'll keep turning the pages as much as I did. My only disappointment was that I would have liked to have learned more about the ins and outs of Richard's career (the only glimpse we really get is of a fight in the office with Stewart Lee!) but I guess we'll get that when he's approaching 60! Great stuff!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but it peters out..., 19 July 2011
How Not to Grow Up is a very enjoyable book - for the first two thirds anyway - but the final few chapters are much less compelling; once Herring actually does start to 'grow up' it becomes boring!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 19 July 2011
This review is from: How Not to Grow Up: A Coming of Age Memoir. Sort of. (Paperback)
This was trying to tap into The Yes Man territory but despite the odd funny moment, it just didn't work and sometimes left a bad taste in the mouth. Disappointing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Existential crisis, with plenty of knob gags, 26 April 2011
By 
A. Warmington (Hampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Not to Grow Up: A Coming of Age Memoir. Sort of. (Paperback)
First, the disclaimer. I knew Richard Herring quite well once. We were in the Oxford Revue Workshop together, where his comedy career began and mine more or less ended. Being surrounded by obvious incipient comedy genius in the form of him, Stewart Lee, Armando Iannucci, Al Murray et al. was enough to convince me to stick to the day job. We weren't close friends or anything but he was a nice enough bloke who I would happily heckle in a pleasant sort of way if I saw him on stage again.

This book is a curious read. Whilst very funny in places, it is not the usual jog-trot through growing up in the '70s and '80s. Much of it is quite dark, in as much as when he stops doing knob gags for long enough, Herring is clearly going through a bit of a tunnel as he contemplates reaching the age of 40 with little financial security and a comedy career that has probably peaked, if not stalled. Much of this is palpably contrived for the purposes of creating his next Edinburgh show, but it is genuine enough.

Some of the negatives from previous reviews are fair. It is definitely far too long - half a chapter on a meeting with the bank manager, FFS! - and it is not always easy to feel sorry for someone living the life many men would dream of: getting up whenever you like, no commitments, easy access to attractive women half your age ('Comedy groupies' was a bit of an oxymoron in Oxford in the late 1980s. In fact the total impossiblity of there being such a thing was a running gag at the Workshop. Funny how things turn out). Herring is intelligent and self-aware enough to know this and to know that he is coming over as a bit of a berk at times, so I assume he left this in on purpose.

However, I still enjoyed the book for many reasons, not least the most eloquent defence of immaturity that I have ever read. When we 'mature', when we lose the ability to laugh at farts - or worse still, stop ourselves from doing so - we are really losing something. And you don't have to be a 39-year-old with no serious worries and no worse hang-ups than never having had a threesome to know that. Though it probably helps to be a younger child...

Finally, if you don't want to know the result, look away now: by the end, he has got over the milestone without anything very much happening, he's had his threesome (with two attractive women) and even may have found a genuine soulmate. Isn't there some kind of a law against being this jammy? Cheers, Rich.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars stay away..., 17 Sep 2010
By 
...even if you're a big fan of richard herring. i went in to this as a long time fan of all his shows with stewart lee, his current standup and a (rapidly fading, it must be said) appreciation of his podcast with andrew collins.

it's a cliché that all good things must come to an end, and it seems richard herring is well on the slide from worthwhile, funny and satirical comedian into the boring, scatologically-obsessed joke he once parodied.

but clearly he believes he is being very clever at the same time. oh dear.

anyway, the book itself is written in a sickly child-like prose which becomes dull and irritating after a few chapters, while the self-aggrandising (but all the while insisting that they're self-deprecating) encounters are dull and not nearly as insight-worthy as the author seems to want us to think.

even the champagne-bottle-up-the-arse threesome moment was written so badly as to completely undermine the impact.

two stars (it isn't absolutely terrible, merely very bad) is a fair review for this product and unless you can get it for less than a pound, steer clear.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best mid-life-crisis memoirs, 7 May 2010
By 
Mr. Stuart Bruce "DonQuibeats" (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
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There are quite a few male mid-life-crisis memoirs out there, but this is one of the best.

It is mostly a year in the life of a not-quite-famous writer and comedian, but with plenty of throwbacks to his schooldays and past relationships. It's almost entirely about relationships, being single at 40, looking back on past failed relationships, ex-girlfriends and their babies, current friendships-or-maybe-more, the dating game, and all that.

It's quite self-deprecating. Herring lays everything on the line- his faults, his desperation, his sometimes despicable behaviour, and his private and often dirty-minded inner thoughts. It's sometimes sexy, sometimes sad, sometimes quite sinister, but it's a really honest insight into the male brain that men will relate to and may even help women to understand.

It even, in parts, borders on being a useful advice book for anyone thinking similar thoughts. There is also, insanely, some funny yet strangely useful diet advice towards the end. It's a book with plenty of tangents.

One thing that may annoy some readers is that Herring possibly doesn't realise how lucky he is. He has been able to avoid a proper job for his entire life and he does have a remarkably high success rate with women (if everything in the book is to be believed), thanks in part to his career touring the country meeting new audiences every night. Any men who are 40, single and struggling to meet any single women at all might find it very frustrating.

This really is one of those books you can't put down (especially if it gets sticky).
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Musings of underachievement - or underachiving musings?, 30 April 2010
By 
Apollo 11 (UK) - See all my reviews
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Casting himself as the everyman that (a) enjoys stand-up as the other rock & roll, (b) still reads music magazines, and/or (c) refuses to move out of jeans into slacks and slippers, How Not To Grow Old, Richard Herring's memoir-of-sorts is a wry look at what it means to finally reach that complicated age of 40; part ode to youth and adolescence, blended with a quietly scathing look at the seeming second childhood of being a thirtysomething in our media-defined day and age. And what an odd book this is; a fine idea, and one that was clearly written from the heart (and you can probably tell there's a 'but' coming)... but, grief, doesn't Herring go on!

Don't get me wrong, there's a great deal of warmth and wit in How Not To Grow Up, but it's one major shortfall is pace. Not being a fan (or even that aware) of Herring I can't comment too much on his stand-up, but as a writer of books he struggles at times, and cries out for a major edit. There's clearly a great writer in Herring, should he choose to move into novels, but on the strength of How Not To Grow Old, he desperately needs to pick a direction, find his focus, and employ a more aggressive editor. Which, I guess is rather apt given the subject of the book in hand.

He's clearly a great chap (and, as with all comedians, more balanced at root than his mask would suggest), but I strongly suspect the gravitas of committing his life and inner self to public view weighed down on him too much, and in the process he lost sight of what he wanted this book to be. One minute How Not To Grow Up is up for being a snappy comedy work, the next a soul-searching reportage on what it means to be a single British hetro-sexual male of suitable means at the start of the 21st Century, the next it's all musings and valued memoir. The consequence of which generates a pace that is all over the place, and as a work of entertainment tends to challenge attention (well, mine anyway).

In the process, he also gets so wrapped up in either apologizing for the very subject matters he raises for comedy effect, such as sexual mores, booze consumption or money - the things he fears mean he's stunted as an adult - that he not only repeatedly halts proceedings whilst he analyzes every point from all conceivable angles (sometimes going round in circles), but also ends up defeating his own purpose somewhat. Said musings would no doubt fuel a great Herring stand-up show, the arena in which he is most at home and in which the audience knows there is a fiction at play, and the man can clearly write, but as an author and on the strength of this first work, he's got some way to go before he nails his form; or, if I' not being too critical, justifies the need to commit what aren't necessarily insane antics, unique observations or celebrity-fueled revelations of great value, to an eternity on the already heaving shelf marked comedy 'biography'.

That said, if you want a book to keep you entertained, How Not To Grow Up is amusing enough, and if you like the cut of this man's jib - and let's face it comedy is subjective - you could do worse than invest in Herring.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making A Mid-Life Crisis Sounds Like Fun!, 26 April 2010
By 
Mr. M. A. Reed (Argleton, GB) - See all my reviews
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Being a male of a 'certain age', that is, quite near the Dreaded 40 which Herring is so obviously fearing, "How Not To Grow Up" feels both like a very bad - and very good - situation comedy about middle age, and one of the greatest stand up sets of all time laid to print. The tales within are those of a minor mid-life cris, one that is instantly recognisable in the day and age where life doesn't get much better than it did when you were 20, when you still stuff your face with the crack cocaine of fried chicken with the man behind the counter who you see more often than your friends, and wonder where life went and what it is meant to be.

By the time you get to 40, you're meant to have it all worked out - where your life is going, what the purpose of it is, and probably settled down, married up, and bred - but life just doesn't always work out like that. (There is a plus side, Herring hasn't had a relationship longer than 2 years and that means he's never been divorced and never had to pay obscene amounts of money to an ex-wife, but that is hardly compensated by a life where your best friend is your DVD collection.. or is it?). Where this book differs from yoru standard run-of-the-mill Middle-Aged-Lad-Dad-Dick-Lit is that Herring has a moral compass, a context in which his mistakes are analysed and understood.

As most people never quite managed to live the life he has, and ended up accidentally a grown up with kids and a job, in one respect the self-imposed exile of indulgence sounds like a paradise when I, for example, have to battle a five year not to watch "Ben Ten And The Amazing Monsters" for the 3,742nd time in a day, there is also somewhat of a void, a lack of a narrative that provides a direction for the journey. : it seems impossible to have a life of indulgence without a lack of necessary direction. Still, when you are playing with 20p plastic spiders hiding in your navel, life can seem as an immense adventure.

Aside from this, which I connect with in a way that perhaps I have no other book in recent years - Herring has a deft turn of phrase, a brilliant way of telling a story that seems simply natural and belies years of experience, including a fabulously sly deconstruction of a meeting with a bank manager. In many ways, it feels to me as if this is an alternative biography, the kind of world which is both tantalisingly in reach and terrifying close. The process of 'kidulthood', that is, being an adult with a kid's soul, is realised fully in this book, and made clear that it is a double edged sword. Overall, I couldn't help but like the narrator, and his journey of self-discovery, self-delusion, and self-drunkeness shows a man looking for something more than life and something different, and doing so in a way that is both incisive and constantly entertaining : it's the longest, most compellingly confessional, and human tale of a mid life crisis I have written that thankfully eschews the self-pity and goes straight for the self-enlightened, cheerfully bewildered view of the lives that we often live without ever planning it to turn out quite that way. Recommended.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of growing up, 21 April 2010
By 
Mr. Simon Paddon "Simon" (Barnstaple, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have been a big fan of Danny Wallace's for some time, and when I saw this book, I thought i might in for more of the same.

And I nearly got it.

Richard is approaching 40- and is struggling. All his previous misdemeanors and success's- including fights and sexual conquests- are relived and analyzed in an attempt to hold back the time.

This is a funny book, with serious (and sometimes sad and thoughtful) conclusions. Richard is a more intellectual Danny Wallace, with bigger words and deeper meaning. He is more self introspective in this approach- and the book reaches a suitable ending.

Why not 5 stars? It does have an underlying theme of sadness and desperation which really makes you both feel for AND slap Richard. It's this slapping which stops it being a 5 star for me.

However, it is worth the money, and will make you think and laugh. Out loud. Especially the bit about his previous fights.

Oh go on, get it. You will end up comparing it against your life; and you know you will come out better off.
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How Not to Grow Up: A Coming of Age Memoir. Sort of.
How Not to Grow Up: A Coming of Age Memoir. Sort of. by Richard Herring (Paperback - 3 Mar 2011)
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