From BBC Dickens adaptations to Benidorm and Ideal to the PG Tips ads, Johnny Vegas has become one of Britain's best-loved comic actors.
But before he'd ever drunk tea with a knitted monkey or made himself the exception that proves the rule in terms of the predictability of TV panel game regulars, Johnny Vegas was perhaps the most fearlessly confessional stand-up comedian this country has ever produced.
How did an eleven-year-old Catholic trainee priest from St Helens grow up to become the North West of England’s answer to Lenny Bruce? That’s just one of the many questions answered by this eye-poppingly frank memoir.
Becoming Johnny Vegas establishes its author as the poet laureate of the Pimblett's pie.
Once you've finished this darkly hilarious tale of family, faith and the creative application of alcohol dependency, you'll never look at a copy of the Catholic men's society newsletter the same way again.
Comedian and TV star Johnny Vegas started life by the name of Michael Pennington and lived in St Helen's, Lancashire. Growing up he entered (and dropped out of) seminary school, trained as a potter and worked as a barman.
In 1996, Pennington made his TV debut as a contestant on Win, Lose or Draw. On air he stated that he wanted to be a comedian with the stage name ‘Johnny Vegas’. A year later, in 1997, he was nominated for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s prestigious Perrier Award – and the rest is history. Johnny has appeared on panel shows, one-off movies, the hugely popular TV sitcoms Benidorm and Ideal – and crowned these achievements with several non-comedic acting roles, to great critical acclaim.
With a good job in sales and marketing and a nice house in Manchester that he shared with his wife and kids, John Bishop was no different when he turned the dreaded 4-0. But instead of spanking a load of cash on a car that would have made him look like a senior stylist at Vidal Sassoon, he stumbled onto a pathway that ultimately lead him to become one of the nation’s best loved comedians. It was a gamble, but boy, did it pay off.
How Did All This Happen? is the story of how a boy who, growing up on a council estate dreaming of ousting Kenny Dalglish from Liverpool FC’s starting line-up, suddenly found himself on stage in front of thousands of people nationwide, at an age when he should have known better.
In his own inimitable style, John guides us through his life from leaving the estate and travelling the globe on a shoe string, to marriage, kids and the split that led him to being on a stage complaining to strangers one night – the night that changed his life and started his journey to stardom.
Wonderfully entertaining and packed with colourful reminiscences and comical anecdotes, this is a heart-warming, life-affirming and ultimately very, very funny memoir from one of the nation’s greatest comedians.
Growing up in his parents’ pub, small and wiry in a world of bigger and chunkier specimens, Lee quickly learned that cracking jokes was a way to get attention. After a somewhat random series of jobs, which included being Red Rum’s stableboy and a bingo hall barman, it was as a Great Yarmouth holiday camp entertainer that he had his first crack at telling jokes on stage. It got him some laughs, the sack and a punch in the face.*
Now, as Lee Mack, he’s one of our best loved and most successful comedians, both as a live stand-up and on television. In Mack the Life, Lee tells the story of how he got there and gives extraordinary insight into what really makes comics tick. Hilarious and brilliant, it’s the kind of book which reminds you why you learned to read in the first place.
But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.
As Jenny says:
"Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.
"Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'"
Furiously Happy is about "taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they're the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence. It's the difference between "surviving life" and "living life". It's the difference between "taking a shower" and "teaching your monkey butler how to shampoo your hair." It's the difference between being "sane" and being "furiously happy."
Lawson is beloved around the world for her inimitable humor and honesty, and in Furiously Happy, she is at her snort-inducing funniest. This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are - the beautiful and the flawed - and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. Because as Jenny's mom says, "Maybe 'crazy' isn't so bad after all." Sometimes crazy is just right.