Roger Lewis - Growing Up With Comedians
A collection of portraits of some of the finest comedians of our time. From the author of the acclaimed The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers, as made into an award-winning film by HBO, and the dark and scabrous Seasonal Suicide Notes, which everybody loves, here at last comes the definitive book about comic genius by a man whom The Sunday Times has hailed as 'brilliantly funny... a comic genius'.
Growing up in South Wales, the precocious Roger Lewis longed to lock himself away from the world and listen to bootleg cassettes of The Goon Show and count the fucks (144) and cunts (89) uttered on the Derek & Clive Live LPs. He screamed with horror at Jimmy Clitheroe. He was a connoisseur of Norman Wisdom and Terry-Thomas. He lapped up Marx Brothers films, Ealing films, and On The Buses, which to him was as sinister as Strindberg.
Once he reached university, Lewis's love for the art of comedy never waned, and he could never fathom why the grisly hairy-nosed academics considered comedy trivial, comedians frivolous. In Lewis's view, comedy has more lasting significance than tragedy - the supposed pinnacle of art - because comedy, like real life, admits to misrule and incapacity, accepts the inconsequential, harbours extravagance and eccentricity, and endorses the fact that, in the end, nothing quite adds up.
This book contains incisive portraits of the world's most treasured performers and complicated personalities - from Chaplin to Tati, Hancock to Hawtrey, Laurel and Hardy to Spike Milligan, Terry Gilliam to Barry Humphries, and Arthur Lowe to Benny Hill, amongst many others.
The chapters comparing Kenneth Williams with Francis Bacon, Leonard Rossiter with John Reginald Christie, Groucho Marx with A.J. Ayer, Morecambe and Wise with Gilbert and George, and Joyce Grenfell with Kathleen Ferrier, in particular, will be heralded as criticism and commentary at their most profound and creative.
Growing Up With Comedians asks what lurks beneath the public face; where does talent end, ego begin, and periods of madness take over? From pompous control freaks to unpredictable originals, Lewis, as only he knows how, examines the strangeness and hidden sorrow found behind the excrutiating facades.
First published: Tuesday 13th July 2021
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