Book Review: “A Funny Life” by Michael McIntyre

I received this book as a Christmas present and what a fabulous gift it was. I have been enjoying Michael McIntyre’s work for many years and saw him live in Cardiff back in 2018.

What I soon discovered when reading “A Funny Life (The Autobiography)” is that it’s not THE autobiography, but AN autobiography. There was a previous book, “Life and Laughing: The bestselling first official autobiography from Britain’s biggest comedy star” as it’s now helpfully listen on Amazon… had only the latest book been called “A Funny Life: The bestselling second official autobiography from Britain’s biggest comedy star”, I may have been able to read about Michael’s life in chronological order. But never mind, I’m sure I will enjoy the first book too when I get hold of it.

The book, therefore, is a continuation from where the previous book appears to have left readers – on the point when Michael is about to start becoming successful – up to the point when he really is successful. Ironically, the book closes with setting up what will become “Still Laughing: The bestselling third official autobiography from Britain’s biggest comedy star” (OK, I’ve made up the “Still Laughing” bit) with pointing out that this will cover the period with “The Big Tour” – which is when I saw him live.

Anyway, “A Funny Life” is great – there are mixture of emotions; plenty of humour and jokes, but with further insights into Michael’s life. Despite how much he uses his own life for inspiration for routines, it should come as no surprise that there is so much more. There’s also sadness. And although the verb tenses point to this news coming at some point, it’s still so sad for the person themselves, their family, friends, and for Michael when you get to that point.

Although there is much about the book that resonates with me, despite us inhabiting very different lives (that’s part of what makes his humour work), there was one passage that particularly stood out for me;

“My life would have been so much easier if I could do my Live at the Apollo and Royal Variety sets until I’m old and grey, but the truth is nobody wants to hear a joke twice. The magic is gone. When a comedian does new material the audience is happy, when a musician does new material people go to the bar”

“A Funny Life”, page 154

I even heard a few people around me make a similar comment like “I heard him do some of those jokes before” when seeing Michael live in Cardiff. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand these people and I disagree with Michael’s sentiment above. I DO want to hear some of the old jokes again. Why do we get the DVDs? To watch it once? Some may. But many of us will watch them again and again and laugh every time. Also seeing the jokes you have only heard on TV in person is so different. I don’t care that I know what the punchline is, it’s the delivery and seeing him (albeit mostly relying on the big screen to see him) live that’s part of the experience. Also, as I get older, my memory isn’t so good so I may not even remember that I’ve heard it before. There are some jokes that I do remember that I would love to hear again one day – maybe audiences could do a vote on what jokes out of a list of options could be included each night, with them mixed in with new material. To some degree I take the point about musicians doing new stuff – but by the same token, we love concerts to hear the music we already know. Hearing things live is different. The venue is different. Just as watching a movie at the cinema is different to seeing it on TV. Seeing things live, or just on a big screen, is an immersive experience. And, with comedy, we want to enjoy the jokes with the comedian. He deserves that too – to get the feedback of us having so much fun.

Anyway, the book is fabulous… and now the Christmas rush is over, it’s available for less than half the original price (and less than book 1 – perhaps there are others also looking to read that one now having made the same discovery as me) so there’s not much of an excuse not to get a copy.

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