My mid-life crisis stand-up comedy memoir I Laughed, I Cried: How One Woman Took On Stand-Up and (Almost) Ruined Her Life is out one month today! Hurrah!
To mark the countdown, Orion has released 10 copies for a giveaway on GoodReads.com. Click here to put your name in the hat. But hurry! The giveaway is only open until 10 June. And if you win, you are supposed to post a review on Goodreads (however short and however negative – it’s OK, I am used to heckling).
Other news so far: Last week it went in at No. 1 on Hot New Releases in Comedy on Amazon. Pick of the Month for June in The Bookseller. Best Non-Fiction Read in Good Housekeeping: “A seize-the-day memoir to inspire anyone with a long-held dream.” In the pages of their June issue I sit proudly alongside ANN WIDDECOMBE. Just as I happily would at any social function. I await your call, Ann. Bring Anton with you.
Tickets now on sale for July 3 book signing at the Watershed in Bristol where I’ll be talking about I Laughed, I Cried, my stand-up-meets-mid-life-crisis memoir, described by Caroline Quentin as “crazy, clever and brave.” As I’ve got the show version of the book coming up in Edinburgh on 18 and 19 August, I’m assuming that this event will be an unofficial Edinburgh preview. Or at least that’s what I’m intending to use it for… Whatever happens, I will make sure it is (a) funny and there is (b) some form of free wine. Also (b) will aid the manufacture of (a) so it is especially essential.
Events list just updated: Click here for events in May, June, July. Includes… Supporting Michael McIntyre at Bloomsbury Theatre on 13 May… Tall Tales at the Good Ship in Kilburn on 23 May… Dr Who night at The Underground Restaurant with Josie Long on 10 June… Upstairs Downton at the Half Moon Putney on 11 June… MCing BritMums Live Awards on 21 June… I Laughed, I Cried book signing at The Watershed, Bristol on 3 July… Book now to avoid disappointment! (Disappointment regarding tickets. I cannot guarantee avoidance of other disappointments in life generally. Although I will try to do this. And I will feel bad when they happen.)
I’ll update Edinburgh dates as soon as they’re live on edfringe.com. Upstairs Downton is already listed: it’s at Heroes of the Free Fringe at The Hive, 1-25 August, 5pm, “pay-what-you-want”. I’ll be doing about 10 shows with Upstairs Downton: here’s a write-up of our recent sold-out Bristol gig. I’ll also be doing the show of I Laughed, I Cried at Funny Women Pop-Up Fringe at Le Monde on 18 and 19 August at 10.40pm; three nights of The Night I Died at Bob’s Book Shop on 8, 9 and 10 August at 11pm and a night with Granta on stories and performance on 9 August, 7pm. More details and booking as they come.
This week’s Observer debate took great offence at Ben Elton’s new sitcom The Wright Way and decided to ask, “At 53, is he too old to cut it?” I argued that comedians can be funny — sometimes even funnier — when they get older. Especially Joan Rivers. Comedy critic Bruce Dessau argued that most of them tend to produce their ground-breaking work when they are younger and then peak around forty. This was exciting news for anyone who sees me in the next ten weeks. Then it’s my fortieth birthday. After that? Goodbye, hilarity.
I think I was the only person they could find who would defend Ben Elton, even though I did not go very far down the route of defending The Wright Way and its jokes regarding proud erections. I’m not really trying to defend Ben Elton himself here (he’s more than capable of doing that on his own). I’m just wondering why people get so upset when they don’t find something funny. OK, so it’s not to your taste! It doesn’t mean no-one else will like it. It’s like what Tina Fey says comparing women in comedy to dim sum. “I don’t like Chinese food. Doesn’t mean I write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”
Talking to Bath Short Story Award about Helen Dunmore, Bulgakov and making voodoo dolls of people who have rejected you.
In TW11 magazine doing stand-up for Oxfam Get Together for International Women’s Day.
Talking to Bath Life about Ben’s Cookies, Amitav Ghosh and jumpsuits.
Talking to Laugh Out London about The Night I Died, standing on a wet cardboard stage in Croydon and Rich Fulcher repeatedly saying, “You look Chinese.”
Talking to Run Riot about Upstairs Downton: The Improvised Episode (latest news: the show will be at The Hive at Heroes of the Free Fringe in Edinburgh from 2 to 25 August).
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row about The Wright Way, Ben Elton’s new sitcom about a health and safety officer, and The Job Lot, a new ITV “dramedy” set in a job centre. My response confused some listeners. I said I laughed out loud at the slapstick of The Wright Way but, ultimately, was not crazy about it: despite tight writing and some bravura acting performances, it does feel old-fashioned. (Which some people will love. It will find fans amongst Miranda and Mrs Brown’s Boys aficionados.) The Job Lot, on the other hand, has something fresh and different about it. There’s a feel of the best of The Office with a dash of The Thick of It thrown in. Plus it has its own morose, claustrophobic tone. No big laughs and yet possibly the better comedy. I know. It makes no sense.
Interviewed by Elise Rayner for BBC Bristol about Upstairs Downton: The Improvised Episode and our imminent visit to Bristol. We’re at the Windmill Hill Social Club at 6pm on Sunday 14 April. Tickets here. Conversation turned INEVITABLY to the Guardian Downton blog and the possible re-emergence of Melty-Face Patrick. I can’t help thinking that the more we talk about this, the more likely it is to happen. COME ON, UNCLE JULIAN. BRING BACK PATRICK! Maybe Edith will make it up the aisle after all… And if it doesn’t happen in real life, we can always make it happen via the power of improvisation.
Much joy at the judging of the Teddington Red Nose Day Shop Window competition! I took the competition EXTREMELY seriously and was VERY rude about anyone who (a) used low quality balloons (“lacking in imagination”) (b) had a discreet and tasteful display (“good taste is not in the spirit of Red Nose Day”) and (c) just stuck a red nose in their window (“some contestants were just plain lazy”). I was MERCILESS towards the candidates who stuck a red nose inside a fire extinguisher and considered this a “display”. “Next year please try harder.” The winner? TEDS Childrenswear of 97 High Street, who raised over £400 for Comic Relief.