I picked this one up because Jo Brand’s gigs always make me laugh and I have a great admiration for her work.
What finalized my decision was the dedication: “To anyone out there who hasn’t done what they wanted to do yet.”
The first part of this book fulfilled the implicit promise behind any book written by a stand-up comedian: it made me laugh. That said, I must be honest and add that its middle section reads like a series of ramblings.
Don’t get me wrong, Jo Brand seems like a very nice woman and I have nothing but respect for her. This professional shows strength and passion for her beliefs. But this book reads like a report on someone’s ordinary life and actions. The author didn’t seem to think carefully enough to select only the meaningful events in her life and spare us the little casualties, which we have all been through at some point.
I believe there’s nothing wrong with describing minor events in a Memoir, if we can add some universal meaning to it. Otherwise, the Memoir will only be worthy to the readers that were in fact a part of that life: family and friends.
But it doesn’t seem to be the case here.
I would accept it if with this meaningfulness, being the author a stand-up comedian, came a good laugh. But, after a while, there was only a tiny smile on my lips and the feeling that I was hearing an old lady ramble about her past, while I volunteered to make her company.
That seemed so wrong… I don’t mean to offend Jo Brand; in fact, in her gigs, she seems to have a young spirit, and maybe that’s why I felt so disappointed with this book.
We can’t all laugh at the same things, we can’t all like the same colour; there’re probably many fans out there who would disagree with me. To be honest: there are a couple of good moments and a handful of good jokes. The book is well written grammatically; all punctuation is in the right places and the overall feeling is of mild entertainment. Kind of like having a good time chatting with someone in a bar (maybe I should have read it while drinking beer). Unfortunately, it lacks on a major quality that all Memoirs must have: dept.
It has its moments, but it doesn’t have dept throughout. This book is a straight-forward approach on a group of memories from everything that happened in Jo Brand’s life. Now you might say: and isn’t that what a Memoir is???
Not a good one at least. For me, it would do good for a nice group of blog entries. You know, the ones we visit because the author seems really nice, makes us have a laugh from time to time, and we admire her work, but the blog is really nothing more than a detailed report on her casual, uneventful, life?
There’s nothing wrong with doing this on a personal blog, but I don’t believe it’s good enough for a book you are expecting people to spend their money on. It reminds me of the saying that ‘Everyone has one good book in them’. Yes, but not everyone has a Memoir. What may seem relevant to you is probably as interesting to the rest of the World as hearing someone else’s dreams.
That said, I believe that if you admire Jo Brand and are the kind of person who likes to peek at another one’s life in detail, here’s your opportunity. What I’ve learned from this experience is that if nothing much happened in your life other than what’s predictable and ordinary, you shouldn’t write a Memoir.
I will definitely keep on seeing her gigs, though. Maybe her second Memoir, “Can’t Stand Up For Sitting Down”, will finally grab me by the heart and mesmerize me with the wisdom I admire in Jo Brand.
Why 3 stars, then? Because it’s an easy, casual read and sometimes, after a hard they at work, we just want that.