on 31 October 2011
I'm a massive fan of all of the things Rob Brydon has been in, probably the Trip and Human Remains most of all, so I knew this would be a funny book. I hadn't anticipated that it would make me laugh as much as it did though - nor that it would be as well written as it is. You can totally hear his voice coming off the pages, and there are parts of it which will really stick with me - lots of very well told funny stories. The photo sections are hilarious and it's really entertaining to read about some of the things he did before making it famous - the bits about his voicever work are comedy gold. You don't expect someone in 'showbiz' to be so candid about the grit and hard work of getting in to it... Loved it and would wholeheartedly recommend it...
As a fellow South Walian, I've been a fan of Rob Brydon's for many years. I knew he had a good story to tell, and this doesn't let you down.
Splendidly self-deprecating throughout, Rob writes as he speaks. He keeps up a running commentary on his own narrative throughout which is so exactly him. Very few celebrity writers manage this trick of keeping their own voice- Paul O'Grady is a notable exception. Rob's book is right up there with Paul's and really deserves to do as well.
This also means that the book will no doubt make a wonderful audiobook, if Rob has the time to do it.
The early chapters are also a tribute to the strong, loving support Rob received from his family. Although Rob grew up in a time of recession and his family was affected by this, his parents did their damndest to shield him from worry. Rob had a very indulged childhood - and in one infinitely sad little paragraph, of an event when he was six, he gives an indication why. Normally children who are spoiled aren't very appealing but Rob clearly was.
Like so many others in his field, the one place he shone at school was on stage, and he plays tribute to the teachers who made it so. Wales has a gift for producing inspirational teachers who have produced inspirational actors. Rob, Michael Sheen, Sir Antony Hopkins and Sir Richard Burton have all come from a tiny area, geographically. All had mentors who made them so.
Much of Rob's recall of his student days is probably helped by the fact that he was teetotal. Most celebrity autobiographies contain periods when the writer was too busy going out and having a good time to recall much - not Rob's.
Rob's gradual rise as a voice-over artist and frustrated actor-comedian is wonderfully described... You read on, hoping the break comes soon, but this also outlines the gradual emergence of the character who would make that break, the exiled Cardiffian taxi-driver, Keith Barret. (And an explanation of why it's Barret and not Barrett.)
A special mention must go to the photographs throughout the book - the captions are absolutely brilliant. Most of us have a dodgy childhood pic taken with Santa. Most comedians include one in their biographies. Rob has three dodgy Santas.. and one rather handsome one.
An absolute must buy if you love a great, rewarding, warm and funny celebrity read. Five stars plus.
on 5 July 2015
Rob Brydon is a Welsh actor/comedian. The first 25% of this book is mainly taken up by the description of RB's activities as a child and then as a schoolboy in Wales (I did mention that he was Welsh didn't I?) much like any other boy in the UK.
He then proceeds to relate his endeavours to get into various stage schools, and going into tedious detail about doing voice-overs and obscure radio and TV programmes in Wales - he is Welsh as he constantly reminds the reader - and the West Country. He also made appearances on Sky TV at weekends, when not many people had Sky.
RB also reveals that he was an admirer of Jimmy Savile. It should be said that this was before Savile was revealed as the monster that he was. Will this unfortunate praise be expunged from a reprint, I wonder?
The last half of the book is boring, being full of trivial detail, probably of interest only to RB devotees - who else wants to know how RB filled in his time between voice-over appointments by wandering through the floors of HMV in Oxford Street.
I am a fan of Rob Brydon, but the book stops short of his Gavin & Stacey period and his innovative programmes with Steve Coogan. I coulden't get to the end soon enough.
on 18 October 2011
Has to rate as one of the most hilarious books I've ever read, up there with Dunthorne's 'Submarine' - clearly, there's something very funny in the water in Swansea. I rarely laugh out loud, but this had me giggling away and smiling manically through the miserable morning commute and a book I really looked forward to getting back to every day. An absolute pleasure from cover to cover - and I can't wait for the audio version with the clips from his early days. Rob Brydon comes across as honest, good-natured, loveable and, of course, incredibly funny. I'm not normally a fan of autobiography, but I can't praise this highly enough: it's endearing, entertaining and highly enjoyable, I've recommended it to almost everyone I've spoken to this week and I would encourage anyone looking for something to brighten up their day as the cold weather kicks in to give this a go. I've genuinely loved every minute of it.
on 17 October 2011
Loosely translated as "I wet myself"...
Extremely funny and honet writing from a surprisingly-smart chap. Certainly easy to see how he has such an excellent repartee with Steve Coogan.
Particulary enjoyed hearing about his somewhat-humble beginnings as 3rd villager in the Richard Gere romp, "First Knight"...not sure I'll be wanting to see that after his performance though! Rather temted to buy the enhanced audiobook, having seen what the content entails, but I think that might make me a full-blown obsessive...
on 18 October 2011
It's not often that a book makes you laugh out loud, but Rob Brydon's 'Small Man in a Book' made me do exactly that. Rob talks about his difficult ascent to fame and his unlucky love-life as a teen in a strikingly honest memoir that is peppered with hilarious anecdotes throughout.
on 22 November 2011
I agree with the many positive comments about this biography. It is far less shallow and styled than many 'celebrity' memoirs. The author tells an interesting story about his rather unusual rise from a quite comfortable background, up through well renumerated but limiting voiceover work and stints in local radio, to his belated but well-deserved breakthrough as a performer in his own right on TV in some gems as Marion & geoff and Gavin & Stacey. Honest, self-effecing and bright, he comes across as a nice man, and the book is one of the most satisfying I've read in this area for quite a while.
I'm normally quite a fan of audio books, but even if I wasn't I'd very much recommend getting the audio version of Rob Brydon's Small Man in a book.
That's because much of Brydon's autobiography is about his early years doing voiceovers for adverts and trying out comic characters with funny voices on the radio. Hearing Brydon recreate the voices in the audio version of the book gives them much more interest and humour than simply reading the words on the page - especially because, as Brydon self-deprecatingly remarks, for much of his early career as a would-be comic he had the problem of not being very funny. He even became known as the comedy warm-up man for shows who didn't do jokes. The simple words on the page are rather flat compared to hearing him bring his characters, however imperfect their comic creation, to life.
Overall the book is like much of Brydon's humour: gentle rather than exuberant, using the poignancy of events in his life to draw out the laughs. It is the tale of how he slowly, painfully became an 'overnight success' after years of trying. That means it is also a book which, although published in 2011 pretty much stops a decade earlier. It's about getting to the top, not being at the top.
on 18 October 2011
Got this book as a gift - I didn't know much about Rob Brydon but I always liked him in Gavin and Stacey. I really enjoyed reading his story/life. If you are looking to be entertained then you will not be disapointed by his book.
on 17 February 2013
Most celebrity autobiographies concentrate on their subject's glory years; their films, their starring roles, their awards and so on. Those are, after all, the things the public most knows them for. Rob Brydon takes the opposite route and instead tells the story of his long and slow rise to fame - and it's an interesting and enjoyable one, for us, the readers.
In so doing, Brydon comes across as a likable and surprisingly normal person. In many ways, this is the story of a normal person chasing - and ultimately if belatedly fulfilling - his dream. Indeed, the only thing that marks him out as different in the otherwise conventionally respectable niceness of his middle-class upbringing, related in the early chapters on his childhood, is that he always had a desire to perform.
His story is told with the gentle humour, often against himself, with which many familiar with his work will be familiar. It's an appropriate tone for someone who despite, or perhaps because of, the solidity of his upbringing, struggled for many years to break out of the foothills of the entertainment industry. It's from these recollections that we gain an insight into the lesser and unglamorous world of local radio, sales TV, the aspirants on the comedy circuit and voice-over work for adverts - all of which he worked through while trying to make his break into acting and writing on and for TV.
Criticisms? Well, for much of the book, his private life forms an integral part of the story and that's perfectly fair, not least because those experiences must have an influence on how he developed the characters in his sketches and shows. However, he chooses to omit his divorce from the story, which seems an indulgence, particularly given the nature of one of his breakthrough works, Marion and Geoff. That's surely something the reader's entitled to know, no matter how painful it might have been to write. Also, I'd argue the book goes on slightly too long after he has 'made it' but that's more a matter of taste.
Overall, it's a good book; easy reading, enjoyable and one which will raise a smile frequently. Fans of Brydon should certainly find it entertaining but even those who haven't seen much of his work - and I'm in that number - should get plenty out of it too.
One final observation: at times you can hear the Welsh accent purring through. The publishers really should give consideration to releasing it an audiobook, which given Brydon's long career as a voice-over artist, would in any case be entirely appropriate.