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Where Do Comedians Go When They Die?: Journeys of a Stand-up Hardcover – 25 Oct 2009
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About the Author
Milton Jones is a multi-award winning comedian (including the prestigious Perrier Award), He is a regular on Mock the Week and has has made numerous other radio and TV appearances including The Very World of Milton Jones and Another Case of Milton Jones on BBC Radio 4. He regularly features on Radio and TV panel games. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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The book tells the story of the journey(s), both literal and metaphorical, of Jerome Stevens, a wannabe stand-up comedian as he starts out in tiny comedy clubs and works his way up to the big time. Its told in a series of "stream of consciousness" anecdotes during car, bus, train and aeroplane journeys, wioth a few diversions to hotels, dressing rooms, theatres and his home. There are spikes of humour, but this isn't a humorous book, as Jones explains in his foreword. Unfortuantely it isn't anything else either. It isn't dramatic, tragic, insightful or inspiring. There is a sub plot in which the Jerome's sister suffers from cancer and eventually dies, but the tragedy of that situation is shallowly told and evokes no emotion. There is also a sub plot about the Jerome being held in a Chinese prison for a short period, which doesn't have any feeling of tension, conflict or drama. Its another metaphor, of course, but one which fails to evoke any fresh insight into the character other than that he doesn't like being in jail.
There is the odd spark of wit or wisdom, which is what kept me reading, but more out of loyalty towards Jones the comedian than to Jones the author. I'd recommend giving it a miss.
I really like the style of the narrative, alternating between the character reflecting on his immediate past during his journeys between and after various gigs and his situation at the end of the ten-year time span. It's an interesting way to tell a story that is essentially the characters inner monologue without it reading like continual exposition.
The humour is perhaps a little lighter than I was expecting, and a lot of it plays in ironically as Stevens considers ideas for his routines, but overall I enjoyed reading it and would probably read more from Jones if he chooses to write a follow-up novel.
It is not really autobiographical; as the author says at the start "All the events happened either to me, someone I know or someone I've completely made up". Freed from that need to accurately reflect one person's life, the book weaves about through so many events that it gives a much better feel for the professional of stand up comedian overall, as well as leaving the reader relieved that no one poor soul has been through quite all the events told.
The narrative is rather choppy - lots of short scenes, jumping back and forth between different story threads. That could be confusing, but instead is done so well it helps keep up the pace and interest, as well as reflecting the magpie like jumping from idea to idea that epitomises many stand-ups.
Far more importantly, the book is simply very funny, with the quips and puns supported by a cast of rounded characters who are substantial enough to make scenes without jokes sill enjoyable to read.
Most recent customer reviews
You can 'hear' Milton Jones through the pages and if you know him then you know what I mean.