Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: Life and Laughing

Michael McIntyre is a funny man. His comedy has the ability to make you laugh at his stories of everyday life, and probably at your own folly and foibles too! As with many famous comedians, he has recently published an autobiography, telling the story of his rise to fame, and so when it came into our house as a present, I was able to read it.

His humour shines through every line, and each chapter will have you laughing out loud at some point. However there are also touching moments and sad moments, as he recalls the difficult situation of his home life breaking down, having two dads in the school sports day father's race (with them finishing first and last!), and the pain of separation. If you're wanting some advice on dating, then you'll do nothing better than reading his story, and then doing the opposite of everything. Particularly hiding in bushes - a hilarious story!

At several points, though, I was interested in how he dealt with the question of religion and God. In his critique of fortune-tellers, mediums and psychics, he was spot-on: 'If the medium could talk to the dead, why are the dead only giving him the first letter of their name? This is an amazing opportunity for the dead. They must have a lot to talk about, and some pretty major information like: what happens when you die? Is there a God? What's the meaning of life? No, apparently they would rather play some kind of afterlife version of 'Guess Who?'

Yet even with this healthy skepticism, he seems to buy into the story of his mum visiting a Tarot card reader who insisted that his mum was pregnant, would have a son and will be world famous.' As his story unfolds, he keeps returning to it to point out how it all happened, just as was said.

Another interesting incident, and one that perhaps most definitely concerns those who are involved in education or childrens ministry was his recollection of school: 'Every morning we gathered in the gym for assembly and recited the Lord's Prayer... At the end, we'd all very loudly say, 'Amen.' Every day I said this, for six years. I didn't have a clue what it meant and nobody explained it. I remember thinking, 'What daily bread? I had cereal this morning', 'Does this mean I'm allowed to trespass?... There was a grassed area in front of the junior school that had a 'No Trespassing' sign. I used to walk across is safe in the knowledge that God would forgive me.'

Michael also writes about receiving a letter from his dad, 'seemingly from beyond the grave.' It had been written in case of anything happening, and had been found after his father had died. He concludes: 'I had experienced a terrible loss. There were things left unsaid, but my dad addressed them and left nothing unresolved between us and me in no doubt of his love for me, allowing me, in his words, to 'go get 'em'.'

As with most of the comedians around today, there is some choice language, so reader discretion is advised. However I enjoyed the book, and the insight it gives into the joker behind the jokes. A funny read, and well recommended.

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