I find stand-up comedians fascinating. It amazes me how someone can stand in front of an audience for an hour-plus and entertain them just by saying words. It sometimes looks such an easy thing to do but I’m sure the many people who have tried and died have proved how false an assumption that is, like the Britain’s Got Talent contestant who expected to get a laugh by shouting “garlic bread” at a bewildered audience.
After enjoying a great gig by Gary Delaney at the Leicester Comedy Festival I decided to check out some comedy books and the one that really stood out was Milton Jones’ semi-autobiographical novel ‘Where Do Comedians Go When They Die? Journey of a Stand-Up’.
The story records the experiences of the fictional Jerome Stevens at various points of his stand-up career which includes (the preface reveals) events that have happened to the author himself, to other comics he knows, and also some happenings that are entirely fictional.
There are both funny and serious points throughout the book and what comes across is just what an unusual personality make-up you have to have to be a stand-up: a mixture of tenacity, vulnerability, bravery and, most importantly, the ability to look at everyday life from unusual angles.
Stand-up is not something I could do but to experience a world I am so interested in through Jerome Stevens’ eyes is a real delight. Just as Shane Spall’s ‘…Princess Matilda’ book enabled me to experience an epic sea voyage without getting wet, so Milton Jones’ novel provides some of the excitement and quirky characters of stand-up comedy without all the late nights and hecklers.