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Frankie Howerd: Stand-Up Comic Hardcover – Illustrated, 18 Oct 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; illustrated edition edition (18 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841153109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841153100
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 440,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

PRAISE FOR DAD’S ARMY:
'A hugely entertaining read.' Daily Telegraph

'A splendid new "biography" of the comedy.' Observer

'More than a showbiz yarn. McCann's engaging book pays homage to the great catchlines ("They don't like it up 'em") and the great punchlines ("Don't tell him, Pike!").' Jonathan Sale, Independent

PRAISE FOR MORECAMBE & WISE:
‘A gorgeous plum pudding of a biography.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Intensely moving.’ David Hare, Guardian

‘So funny that the reader laughs out loud.’ Sunday Independent

About the Author

Graham McCann is a lecturer in Social and Political Theory at Kings College, Cambridge. He writes regularly on politics and culture for a wide range of publications. Previous books include, Cary Grant: A Class Apart, Morecambe & Wise and Dad’s Army also published by Fourth Estate.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is something very, very special. As a devoted fan of Frankie Howerd, I can't quite put into words how delighted I am to at last have a full-length biography of the great man that, while being extremely thorough and exceptionally well-researched, celebrates the artist instead of abusing the memory of the man. What you get is an incredibly vivid account of the famously rollercoaster career, an unusually sensitive, compassionate and mature account of the notoriously chaotic private life, and an admirable set of insights into the genius of the performer. McCann quotes from interviews with the likes of Eric Sykes (whose early partnership with Howerd is rightly highlighted), Galton and Simpson and various other friends and colleagues, draws on some fascinating archive materials and supplies his own analyses to piece together a big picture that manages to remind you of how important Frankie Howerd remains in the history of stand-up comedy. Add to all of this an invaluable list of stage, radio, tv, film and video performances, quotes from the classic routines and a good selection of photographs, and what you have is a book that gives show-business biographies a good name. A superb piece of work.
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Format: Hardcover
Frankie Howerd had a 50 year career. He more or less re-invented stand up comedy in the 1940s, made TV sketch comedy so much more intimate (by talking directly to the viewers) in the 1960s and inspired a new generation of stand ups in the 1980s. He was a brilliant performer, and it has been so maddening to see him belittled since his death by a succession of 'nudge-nudge-wink-wink' profiles and a handful of pathetically superficial hagiographies. That is why Graham McCann's biography is so welcome. At last - at long last - Frankie Howerd is placed in his proper context - that of stand up comedy - and is shown in all his fascinating complexity. We see his intelligence, his fear, his courage and his artistry. We understand his ambitions and we appreciate his achievements. We get to know the man, and the performer, better than we thought we ever would. The book is marvellous. It truly is. Frankie has finally got the tribute that he so richly deserves.
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By Charles VINE VOICE on 19 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book, but not a great one. McCann clearly adores his subject, which has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that his enthusiasm for Frankie shines through and so he discusses him with alacrity - the disadvantage is that he glosses over certain darker aspects of Frankie's character. He dismisses those who slated his predatory nature in a brief sentence.

One thing to note is that this is a book very much about Howerd's work - it sadly doesn't focus much on his personal life, and frustratingly only touches on his thoughts about politics and philosphy, as well as his experiences with depression. The other main fault with the book is that the author generalises about the success of Howerd's career - some years are total triumphs, others are dismal flops. A look at Howerd's CV doesn't really bare this out. Sure, people have ups and downs but not in the extremes that McCann describes.

Overall, a decent read but more research, and interviews with those who were close to him, would have made it a much better one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
excellent. Good price, quick delivery. Thank you
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
xmas gift
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great read.
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Format: Hardcover
I wouldn't count myself as a great fan of Frankie Howerd, but I do whole-heartedly recommend this book. Well-researched, thoughtful, and balanced, I found it to be one of the best constructed biographies I have ever read. I had not appreciated how ground-breaking FH's approach was, and McCann gives a very helpful potted history of the development of comedy from music-hall onwards which helped me understand what made FH so special. The author doesn't shy away from the difficult parts of FH's personality, nor the poor quality of his later work [due my age, this was pretty much all I knew him for], but he puts all of this in context and the end result is rounded and sympathtic.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't think I've ever enjoyed a book so much - I don't normally read biographies, but then Frankie Howerd always came across as someone rather special and this book shows all his comic skill and hard work, all his character traits and faults, and all his genius. And he was a genius, which is demonstrated amply across all the pages. Tortured genius is probably more accurate.
What I would say is that whilst it covers his career up until the 1960s in really good detail, it starts to feel like it's rushing the part of his life up until his death in 1992 - as if the author has enjoyed Frankie building his career, losing his top slot and making a comeback, but then has not felt entirely comfortable with dealing with Frankie grabbing at work as he got older and less marketable.
Still, if you like Frankie Howerd (and all his famous contemporaries, for they are in here in their vast numbers) and want a balanced view of his life - and it is balanced giving the difficult points as much as the good - then this is the book for you. But be warned it might leave you feeling sad for the loss of such a powerful, magical talent.
P. S. Watch out for the bit at the Establishment (p. 195) - this event is available on CD featuring Kenneth Williams laughing out loud.
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