Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review: Saturday Night Peter

My holiday reading was quite a mix, some theology, some fiction, and some biography. This particular book was the follow up to Peter Kay's first autobiography The Sound of Laughter, and picks up immediately where the first book left off.

Peter Kay is a funny man, there's no doubt about it. His humour presents itself throughout as he tells the story of his rise to popular fame, and his stand up comedy career. Reading this beside the pool, there were many times when I was laughing a little too loudly, tickled by the situations Peter found himself in, and the people he was meeting.

Alongside the jokes, it was also interesting to read in particular about the work involved in stand up comedy from the perspective of a preacher. We stand up and speak for about twenty or so minutes, whereas a comedy set could last up to a couple of hours. While we're not under the pressure to make people laugh (rather our brief is to proclaim God's word), Peter Kay highlights the stressfulness of the situation, and how draining it can be.

A major criticism is that he swears a little too often for my liking, in completely unnecessary ways. He would be just as funny without the swearing, so it's disappointing that he feels the need to include it. Also, with this being his autobiographical second volume, you can expect a third some time in the near future, as this one is solely focused on his stand up career and doesn't really mention his TV work such as That Peter Kay Thing, Phoenix Nights, and Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere.

However, the most interesting point for me, and something I want to consider for a moment or two was near the end, when he's describing how his second stand up tour kept growing and growing, ending up in an arena tour, playing to thousands each night. At his peak, just as the shows are finishing, he has a health scare. Here's how he describes it:

'In my typical Catholic way I assumed this was the beginning of the flipside of the good fortune I'd been having.'
(p. 346)

Is this really typical Catholic belief? That if things are going well then you'd better prepare for some bad stuff to kick in? While I'm no great fan of Catholic theology, I would argue that Kay is more in line with some Eastern philosophy than Catholicism? On the other hand, if this is how Catholicism is understood in the pew as it were, then where is this all coming from?

An interesting question from a byline in a funny book. It is a good book, but I'm reluctant to recomend it to others based on the swearing. Use your discretion (and don't laugh too loud if you do pick it up!).

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