Growing Up with Comedians

Roger Lewis

From the author of the acclaimed The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, and the dark and scabrous Seasonal Suicide Notes, here at last comes the definitive book about comic geniuses 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 Derek and Clive Live. He was a connoisseur of Norman Wisdom and Terry-Thomas, the Marx Bros, Ealing films and On the Buses. Once he reached university, his 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 view, comedy has more 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 adds up. Growing Up With Comedians contains incisive portraits of the worlds most treasured performers and complicated personalities - from Chaplin to Tati, Hancock to Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams to Spike Milligan, Terry Gilliam to Barry Humphries, and W.C. Fields to Benny Hill, amongst others. What makes these artists tick? What lurks beneath the public face? And 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 excruciating facades. By turns lyrical, poignant, and always insanely perceptive, Growing Up With Comedians is another unforgettable high-heat masterpiece by Roger Lewis.