The Chronicles of Hernia Paperback – 1 Oct 2009
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A glorious collection of some of the funniest - and most touching - anecdotes of a comedy legend
From the Back Cover
A collection of hilarious stories and eye-popping anecdotes from the nation's best-loved comedian
Barry Cryer is one of the most respected and admired writers and performers of his time. In a career spanning forty years, Barry has worked alongside the greatest producers and performers in show business: Tommy Cooper, Humphrey Lyttelton, Morecambe and Wise, Willie Rushton, Peter Cook, Kenny Everett, Rory Bremner to name but a few - this book is a veritable Who's Who of comedy.
From humble beginnings at the Windmill Theatre and Expresso Bongo, to The Frost Report, Call My Bluff and I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue, Barry recalls the good, the bad, and the downright ugly in his own inimitable style.
'Barry Cryer ...an anecdote jukebox whose whole life is basically one big chatshow.'
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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 seriously...as 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.
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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