on 23 June 2011
An enthralling, hair-raising, tragicomic read from beginning to end. Heart on sleeve chronicle of 70s youthful misadventure and unconscious character research leading to his ultimate Fast Show triumphs, overcoming his demons and getting the girl. It throbs with truth, authenticity and indomitable spirit. And of course bloody funny. Can I have the film rights please...
on 1 July 2011
Wow! Simon's story will blow you away. He's had one hell of a life - homelessness, prison, addiction, drugs. This book is dark, bleak and hilarious in equal measure. The writing is superb - colourful and clever and I was moved to tears on several occaisons. This is a compelling, eye-opening and moving story and not just for Fast Show fans.
on 8 June 2012
I didn't understand how this sort of book based on a mid-division celebrity's life could get virtually all 5 star reviews, unless they were all from friends and family. But as Simon Day makes clear, he falls out with friends very easily and he's always had difficult relationships with family members. Having read the book I now understand, and he gets the full 5 stars from me too. The author also makes it clear early on that he's hampered by dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, and was never over-burdened by education, so it's no surprise that the writing style is basic, but what a page-turning tale he tells. There's no shortage of self awareness, chopped-up and laid out in lines for the reader to inhale, and for someone so ill at ease in his own skin (physically and mentally) it seems inevitable now that he eventually made a career out of creating alter-egos for himself in the name of comedy. For a life-story founded on addiction and obsessive behaviour, Day's autobiography turns out to be, well, compulsive reading, particularly once he takes us into the familiar territory of Tommy Cockles, Vic & Bob and the Fast Show gang. The only disappointment for me, was that in the Kindle version, because of the very long index, the story effectively ends at the 80% mark just when you're hooked and desperate for a hit of at least another 20%. The epilogue covering redemption via marriage and fatherhood is a mere encore, and before you know it, Simon Day "has left the building" with the reader calling for more.
I wouldn't want to share a flat with him, or even be in the same round as him at the pub, but he's a cracking companion for the 200 or so pages of this book.
on 26 July 2011
i bought this book after seeing simon day on a TV interview, i didnt really know much about him but found him very interesting to listen to, i was not disapointed by his book. it was so honest and straight talking about his addictions and criminal life and i couldnt put it down, read the whole book within a few days! felt disapointed when i got to the end!
on 12 January 2013
I don't typically write reviews, and I'm usually a bit of a book snob. However having just finished this book, I don't see how I could avoid telling people how sensational it is.
This sounds like exaggeration, but it's one of those stories which can be genuinely life-changing for the reader. (actually, that DOES sound like exaggeration, but I think it's true, nonetheless) Although I had a feeling I liked Day as a person and a comedian, I initially thought it would be about his career, which to be frank, would be a bit thinner than most autobiographies.
It's not like that at all. Day's personality is so engaging, complex, relatable, but almost childlike that it's impossible not to connect with this story. As a guy with ADHD and a highly addictive personality, his life has been one of extremes - not least due to addictions to fruit machines; weed; alcohol; cocaine; and crack. The content is extremely funny and well written, but most of all seems to be exceptionally honest. All of his vulnerabilities and weaknesses are discussed in a chatty, extremely readable way.
He has a great turn of phrase, and amazingly down-to-earth analysis of his own stupidity. I've read a lot of biographies. I don't think I've read anybody as insightful and funny as Simon Day.
on 2 February 2013
One of the best auttobiographies I've ever read. It's an extremely interesting story and one that bursts all the bubbles of how you perceive the world of celebrity. Simon doesn't even start talking about the career that we're all aware of until the book is two-thirds through, but the back-story, outlining his addictive personality, his experiences of homelessness, borstal, inability to hold down any kind of job or have a purpose, is at once both enthralling and tragic. It's told in a manner that doesn't glamourise his more 'colourful' days, nor give any sense of regret or bitterness; and is always funny. Some real laugh-out-loud moments, my favourite being the one about the owner of a cafe in South London whose brother had just died.
And then when it gets to the Tommy Cockles/Fast Show era, it becomes apparent that for a long time the only thing that's changed is the money. The tales of lonely holidays, the inability to kick the drugs, the lack of purpose, the squalor, completely at odds with how I imagined his life to have been at the time. And all the while told in a way that's as engaging as the man's performances. It's a superb book, one that seems to have slipped under the radar slightly. Absolutely recommend you get this.
on 1 July 2011
You always you know your reading a good book when you count the pages until the next chapter, this is definately one of those books. And it's damn dark and funny to boot. Fruit Machines in a cafe, been there and done that too in the 80's.
I'm definitely in the mood for reading biographies penned by comedians at the moment so was utterly delighted to be able to choose Simon Day's book. As well as watching him on TV programmes such as The Fast Show and Grass (remember that?) I've also experienced his stand up live at university a decade ago where I can honestly say that he dealt with a heckler with consummate ease.
Day writes about his time growing up in south east London, a place I know well. He comes from solid middle-class stock - his father was an architect and one brother won a scholarship to a private school but his addictive personality teamed with a broken home caused him nothing but trouble and led to a life of addiction to alcohol, drugs and fruit machines. Throughout these difficult times which led to a spell in borstal and homelessness is he never shies away from telling the truth - in many ways Day comes across as a difficult man to know and unlike other comedians (yes Dave Spikey, I'm talking about you) isn't afraid of telling the reader. This, along with other things, makes it a much more rounded autobiography to read and more insightful as a result.
Day's salvation comes in the form of comedy - he happens upon a young Vic and Bob (then Jim and Bob) in Deptford and his rise to fame via touring, stand up and meeting other impresarios such as the indomitable Malcolm Hardee are a joy to read. Of course, fame and fortune via his characters such as Tommy Cockles and Competitive Dad in The Fast Show catapult him to fame but he writes about the flip side - a failed series, more addiction, bad relationships etc.
In conclusion: this is one of the best autobiographies I've read all year; it was literally un-putdownable for me and that's a fairly rare occurrence these days. I'd recommend it to anyone who's a fan of comedy or indeed wants to make it in the business.
on 15 March 2014
The autobiography of Simon Day. Who? The bloke from the Fast Show who wasn't Paul Whitehouse nor the soft spoken, almost cuddly one. Simon Day is not cuddly, as the book soon points out. As he himself admits, his early years shaped him into someone difficult to like, despite coming from a secure and loving family. And it's not laugh a minute either. The first few chapters have funny moments, but as Simon charts his progress - or lack of it- from school days through adolescence into the world of work it all becomes quite sad. A depressed gambling addict, he begins to make you feel the same way, only without the gambling.
As he descends into squalor, thieving and squatting, Day gives us a sideways look at London and a way of living that happens when you're on the margins of society. The tone is always quite light hearted but underneath there is a streak of near self-loathing that you feel powers a lot of comedy. The court jesters always were rewarded with someone else being executed while they really they suspect it should have been them.
His accounts of prison and borstal have a truth about them that say more about he experience in three pages than Jeffery Archer managed in three hundred.
He writes a sketch about a holiday on his own in Australia that should be compulsory reading for anyone considering heading abroad on their lonesome. It is Shirley Valentine without any of the warmth, romance or comfort with oneself. You yearn for him to find some cocaine just to end the solitary confinement in paradise. If I ever fancy lighting out on a solo world tour, I will make a point of rereading this chapter before I pay for the ticket.
At the end of the autobiography I was glad I had stuck with the author because he's always interesting, engaging and honest with himself. There's more Error than Comedy, but the book is better for it.
My wife and I heard a BBC radio interview with Simon Day at the time this book first came out and we both said we'd have to get hold of this book. We failed miserably, but it came back to mind quite recently and I found it here on Amazon.
Day's breathtaking honesty throughout is quite admirable and a large part, I suspect, of the healing and recovery process he's had to go through in his later life. He tells stories of being homeless and drug addled, sofa-surfing between the houses of friends who he stole from and where he wore out his welcome; of living in rented accomodation that was in someone else'd name ; of his many early jobs before he took on comedy and won.
He clearly isn't his own biggest fan, but he's come out on top and readily admits when he DID think he was the bees knees he was probably at his worst as a functional human being.
The story comes just about up to date. He is vague about his current family life, except to glow over what it means to him and how he is living one day at a time.
this was partly disappointing to me for a moment, but then I just thought about how he had given quite enough (and a bit more) in the main book itself and am happy to allow him his privacy. I am so glad he seems to be ok now, I felt for him when he wasn't doing well at all - most of the book.
On one page he lists his favourite group as SLADE, saying he used to smash up his bedroom to their music. Probably why his parents disowned him to a degree after their bitter split. I never smashed by bedroom up when deafening the nighbours with Nod's dulcet tones!
He covers his comedy career honestly and I hope it continues for years to come. He's excellent.