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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Essential for Stewart Lee fans and possibly essential for aspiring comedy writers too., 25 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: How I Escaped My Certain Fate (Kindle Edition)
Despite being a huge fan of Stewart Lee's comedy I came very late to this.

I hadn't read much about it so didn't know quite what to expect. It's a blend of autobiography and very heavily annotated show transcripts. I had heard the book described as a sort of DVD commentary of his shows. I was a bit worried by this. I have seen some of Lee's DVDs several times but I was concerned that I still may not be familiar enough with the shows to understand what a book may be referring to at any given point. But I needn't have worried in the slightest as the shows are fully transcribed and the notes are interspersed. At least that's true of the Kindle version. On the Kindle the "footnotes" don't appear at the foot, nor at the back. They are in-line with the text. I was pleased about that as it meant no jumping about back and forth.

The book caused me to ponder at length. Lee tells you why he's said things and the way he's said them and tells you what effect he intends to create in doing so. 95% of the time it made sense but there were occasions where I asked myself "did he really succeed with what he set out to do there?" That's not even slightly a criticism. I enjoyed those moments of going "hmmm" and wondering to myself. I used to do a lot of thinking about comedy and have even written some in the past. I hadn't put thought into comedy for some years now and I enjoyed going back into that frame of mind. I think aspiring comedy writers will gain from reading this as you are essentially being given a guided tour through comic work, paragraph by paragraph.

If that gives you the impression this is a somewhat academic work, though, that would be quite wrong. It's an incredibly thoughtful book but also full of wit.

A bonus, for me, is that - in this book - I now have lots of names of stand-ups that Lee admires and that I can seek out. This has reignited my interest in stand-up comedy, which things like "Live At The Apollo" had destroyed a few years ago.

Returning to the autobiographical element... it doesn't go into this heavily. It won't give you a full bio. Although aspects of his childhood are mentioned it is in no way the complete story of his life. It mainly centres on his career. That was fine by me, though.

There is a question, I guess, as to whether you ought to see the shows transcribed before reading this. I can only speak from the position of someone who had. My answer is a weak one in terms of telling you whether to buy this book. I suggest you buy all the DVDs! They are such a treat.
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