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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2009
It's been said that everything reminds Barry Cryer of something else, and 'The Chronicles of Hernia' more or less proves it. A slightly revised reissue of his autobiographical volume 'You Won't Believe This But...', it's a stream-of-consciousness trawl through decades in showbusiness, from life as a struggling comic playing second fiddle to nude revues at the Windmill Theatre in the 1950s to his current status as legend of comedy. That's one way of putting it, anyway - a better way would be to describe it as a never-ending cavalcade of jokes and anecdotes amassed from a career working with some of the biggest names in the entertainment world, whether as writer or performer. Nobody tells these kinds of tales quite like Barry Cryer, and I guarantee you'll be amused and entertained throughout. It's impossible not to be won over.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2009
I read this book during the period before and after my recent Inguinal Hernia operation. You can imagine my disappointment to discover that there was not a single mention of life with a hernia, surgical options, alternative treatments, or the stages of recovery from surgery. Rather, I was presented with a set of medically irrelevant memoirs starting from his childhood and early days in the theatre (though no mention of hospital theatres) and his many experiences of stand-up, television and radio. He recounts stories of the many luminaries in the comedy and entertainment world for whom he has written, but no mention of surgeons he would recommend. Much is said of his friendship with the cast of "I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue" though he doesn't refer to any conversations with Dr Graeme Garden regarding the choice between keyhole and open surgery for Hernia repairs.

Despite my considerable disappointments highlighted above I can report that there are luckily few belly laughs to be found in his publication - a great relief to someone recovering from abdominal surgery.

Those looking for insightful witty memoirs of a man whose career has been intertwined with much of the last 60 years of comedy will find this a treasure trove. Those seeking surgical guidance should look elsewhere.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 January 2010
I read this book with my levels of fear and dread rising as I turned each page. The audacity of the man to flaunt his cold calculating killing spree is breathtaking. Why have the police not investigated the untimely deaths of so many of his co-writers? Cryer passes this off as just co-incidence, or the result of living a long life, or the excesses of his colleagues, but the list is endless and includes performers as well as fellow writers; Vincent Price, Tommy Cooper, JB Priestley, Marilyn Monroe (and she died after only speaking to him on the phone) to name but a few, he even admits he's a cannibal and that it was him that et al. All died after having talked to or being seen with Cryer. It is chilling and callous the way he cold bloodily describes this merry-go-round of death and human misery. Lord Lucan reputably critised one of Cryers scripts and he hasn't been seen since.

All this is known in the entertainment business where he is nicknamed the laughing assassin - behind his back of course, it doesn't do to insult him to his face, hence why I am writing this under a pseudonym. I understand that Michael Palin after being asked to write the foreword only agreed to do the travel series 'Around the World in 80 Days' for the BBC and leave comedy in order to escape Cryer's retribution, it took 15 years for Cryer to track him down hence why the book wasn't originally published until 1999 (So many innocent foreword contributors who wouldn't write what he told them died in the interim), and Greame Garden employs half a dozen body doubles in fear of Cryer's legendary wit. If only Humphrey Lyttleton had listened and written a more expansive piece for the book he may still be around today.

But a fellow loiner I read Barry's autobiography with an ever increasing feeling of envy and rib pain. If you read the book expecting Barry to kiss and tell, decry(er) the current comedy scene, dish the dirt on fellow writers and performers (living and dead - I still have concerns about the dead ones, see above for that bit) you'll be sadly disappointed. Barry's a fully paid up human being (and Yorkshireman) and I get the impression he regards himself as extremely fortunate to have the life he's had to date - lets hope it goes on longer and in good health.

He's worked for and with some of the greats of British (and American) comedy and despite the shameless (his words) name dropping doesn't appear to regard himself as one of the greats, which is a shame because he undoubtedly is. The man is a comic genius and increadibly gifted at getting the best out of those around him (who are probably regarded as more talented) he used the word catalyst in the book and that's what he is; a comic catalyst.

This book had me in stitches, and at times in tears (through laughter Mr Cryer, honestly, please don't hurt me) - as I remembered, through anecdotes about his life other performers now long gone (again see above for my concerns). I'm just young enough to remember where the Empire (mentioned 647 times) was and it reminded me how much Leeds and it's theatres have changed. It also reminded me about the afternoons during the school holidays in the 70's when I used to watch 'Jokers Wild' and laugh myself hoarse. It reminded me about so many things and I realised the impact that that generation of performers and writers had had on my life. It also reminded me of just how unnoticed really good comedy writers are. You can have genuinely funny performers who are naturally funny and can think quickly and adapt but good scriptwriting can make performers immortal, and Barry is one of a band of writers who have made great performers immortal. David Frost knew a thing or two about talent back in the sixties so Barry must have been good, Danny Street seemed to think so too 'cos he got there first.

Like I said, a funny, gentle, rambling book written in his wonderfully evocative lugubrious prose. Thanks Barry.

PS Was that OK Mr Cryer? Can I see my kids now? I kept the bits you posted me the Dr's say that they can reattach them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2014
This book is exactly the same as Butterfly Brain with the few odd new lines inserted. I've been deliberately cheated.
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on 26 November 2012
I've always found Barry Cryer to be a very funny comedian (which is good, because comedians are meant to be funny). I bought this book because I thought it might be entertaining, and I was not disappointed. There are lots of great stories and anecdotes, and the character of the author is unmistakable. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes Barry Cryer and/or jokes.
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on 28 December 2013
Always liked Barry's dry wit and this book basically covers what you would expect to read about him. Some very funny passages and a minor revelation about his lack of confidence at times (that surprised me). Would have liked a few more tales of interesting characters met during his career.
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on 22 September 2013
I enjoyed reading this book and found it funny in places but I was surprised to see that the author had got the name of the actor Michael Hordern wrong. I put this down to a typo which managed to escape the proof-reader's eye.
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on 17 October 2015
Fairly obviously dictated and so at times it isn't as clear as it should be. However, it's entertaining, warm-hearted and generous. Like Barry Cryer.
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on 26 October 2013
More of a book of life stories than a true autobiography, but funny none the less. You can pick this up and put it done whenever it suits you.
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on 17 April 2013
Witty, intelligent ,modest and Barry Cryer comes over as a really likeable person. A book to treasure.and well worth reading.
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