Friday, 12 July 2013

Non Fiction Friday - I Laughed, I Cried: How one woman took on stand-up and (almost) ruined her life by Viv Groskop

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17979950
July 2011
The back room of a pub in Stockwell, south London.  Close to 11 p.m.  ‘Please welcome to the stage…’ Oh no, it’s me.  Sometimes they don’t tell you where you are in the running order. I know I must be on soon as there are only a few slots left. But it still sometimes comes as a shock. As I register my name being called, the adrenaline kicks in.  For a good few seconds I can’t breathe.
I’m sitting near the back and I have to push through the crowd to get to the stage.  Cheers, clapping, whoops of support.  The applause dies down.  It’s just me, a microphone and whatever I thought I was going to say.  And – oh, yes – a massive white torture light shining in my face and blinding me.  There’s a feeling, suddenly, that I have worn the wrong underwear: these pants are too tight and they are cutting into me.  Not that anyone else knows this.  I try not to let the information about the pants show on my face.
Published by Orion Books  on 27th June 2013
288 pages
Summary
Everyone wished their life had turned out a certain way.  What if you can still make it happen?
Viv is fed up, recession-scarred and pushing forty.  She always wanted to be a comedian.  But surely that’s not advisable if you have a mortgage, three children and a husband who is, er, not exactly a fan of stand-up?
With no time to waste, Viv attempts the mother of all comedy marathons: 100 gigs in 100 nights.  Sometimes the audience laughs.  Often they don’t.  Along the way she is heckled, flattered, hated, hit on and told that she is ‘not as funny as Miranda.’
A brave new start or the last desperate roll of the dice?  This is a laugh-out-loud, inspirational memoir about having the guts to find out what you were really meant to do with your life.
*****
Reviewed by Georgina Tranter
How do you go about doing something that you have always wanted to do, but not yet found the courage to do it?  It’s what happens to Viv Groskop, wanna-be comedian.  As a journalist, broadcaster and book critic, with three small children (and a husband), it’s not as if Viv’s life isn’t full enough already.  Then she decides she wants to try stand-up.  Not just once, but insanely, for 100 nights.  That way she can finally find out if she is any good at it.  100 gigs in 100 nights.  Simple really.
Only it isn’t.  Viv’s gigs take her up and down the country, away from her family and the roles that she normally fulfils.  Simon, her husband, suddenly becomes full-time parent as Viv can usually be found sleeping in during the morning school run, due to an early morning finish at a gig the night before, or leaving to perform at a gig just when the children need their tea and putting to bed.  The cracks start to show; is this challenge really worth it?
Away from her family, and in trying to achieve the impossible, Viv sometimes has to perform at more than one gig in a day, driving from London to Sheffield to perform to a mother and baby gig in the morning, then back down South to a seedy club, with little, or no audience whatsoever.
This is a warts-and-all tale of the risk one woman will take to find out if she really can fulfil her dream.  Many of us have a vision of ‘what could have been’ but when push comes to shove, do we have the courage to go out and pursue it, or spend the rest of our lives thinking ‘if only?’  
I really enjoyed Viv’s memoir of her 100 days of stand-up comedy.  I certainly couldn’t do it.  I admire her more for having done so.

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