Saturday, 11 May 2013

Michael McInyre – Life and Laughing: My Story

Life and Laughing: My Story was a Christmas gift from 2010. As stated on previous reviews, namely Frank Lampard’s trip to McDonalds, I do not agree with autobiographies being written by celebrities prior to the end of their career or even their fortieth birthday. Such is the case for Michael McIntyre – at the time of publishing he was the ripe old age of 34.

This is of course okay if Michael McIntyre’s career had died at the end of his 2009 tour. However, the news tells me that this is not the case. 2012 was his biggest year. He played to lots of people a record for performances at the 02 Arena. I can’t find this information in his autobiography. Why? Because it was written before it happened.

He does make a good point towards the end of the 295 page story of his life so far, in that he didn’t write about after he became successful because it is boring to him. Also the audience probably know all there is to know because why would they buy the biography if they didn't know who he was? This should mean that we won’t see a follow on autobiography, but only time will tell.

Anyway, enough of my personal autobiographical opinion and on to the book itself.

The first thing I noticed was the Americanisation of the book. Now after experimenting with my own word processor, it does not pick up criticising as a misspelt word. Nor does it pick up criticizing either. Whereas neither is recognised as a spelling mistake, I believe that McIntyre, as an Englishman, should be using the English version of the word. Incidentally, when publishing this on here, it highlights 'criticising' as incorrect and also misspelt.

During the first few chapters, the book reads as if he is speaking and feels a lot like his stand up material. This is quite entertaining and would have been really good had he managed to keep it up for the length of the book.  Unfortunately he doesn't and the narrative falls into standard prose interspersed with jokes, some of which fail to work on paper.

The first one of these occurred on page 29 when he starts talking about the countdown theme and how Alan Hawkshaw gets paid for every time the theme tune is played.  There are several problems with the attempted joke;
  1. The theme tune is played more than once during the show.
  2. The countdown clock doesn’t reset if a contestant incorrectly guesses.
  3.  I’m going to guess that Alan doesn’t get paid by the second as my other two point lead me to believe that this joke is a joke for the jokes sake to try to funny as opposed to actually being based in truth.
This isn’t the only time this happens. On page 75 McIntyre describes his old home town of Golders Green as having the following shops; C&A, Wimpy, Cecil Gee, Woolworths and Our Price. This joke is aimed at the fact that all these stores have gone out of business. However, just by chance, there is a Wimpy in my home town of Newton Abbot. Wimpy still exists, it has just reduced the amount of stores it owns. I’m being a bit picky here but my point is that whereas these jokes would probably work as part of a sketch, when they are on paper, they do not work as well as they otherwise would.

There is another example of this when he tells about his wedding on page 257. He says there are no horses coming to the wedding, but they have a horse drawn carriage to take them away from the chapel. It’s another technicality but I would expect a little bit more thoughtfulness to go into this seeing as the author is one of Britain’s best comedians.

Not even Michael McIntyre can make interior decorating funny. He still tries though on two occasions and, in my opinion, fails. It feels a little too much like filler that is trying too hard to be funny.

That said, there are a few golden moments, one of which stood out to me but again, I think it’s poorly placed in a novel. On page 100, McIntyre makes reference to the Andrew Sachs, Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand saga by saying, ‘I’d like to add that Andrew Sachs, who played Manuel, is a very fine actor and I’d like to wish him and his family well,’ following on from the events of October 2008. It is quite funny but wouldn't be relevant in ten years time as, I think, many people would not know what this was referring to and as such, it would no longer be relevant.

The book is very targeted in that anyone who is a big fan of Michael McIntyre would want to read it and for this, it is very good. However, as a writer, he goes off on a lot of tangents and this makes the book hard to follow in places. However, it did encourage me to re-watch his Royal Variety performances, which allowed me to forgive the few writing faux pas’ he makes in this book.

Life and Laughing: My Story by Michael McIntyre was published by The Penguin Group in 2010. RRP £20.00 (Hardback)

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