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How I Escaped My Certain Fate [Paperback]

Stewart Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Oct. 26 2010

How I Escaped My Certain Fate is an illuminating and original look at performance and the craft of stand-up. In his first work of non-fiction, Stewart Lee presents the texts of the three stand-up shows he wrote and performed between 2004 and 2008. It offers a rare glimpse into the world of Lee, whose work inspires the most histrionic critical praise for its unflinching subject material and stylistic approach.

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About the Author

Stewart Lee began stand-up in 1988 at the age of 20, and won the Hackney Empire new act of the year award in 1990. In 2001 he was asked to write the libretto for Jerry Springer: The Opera which went on to win four Olivier awards. His most recent stand-up shows have been Stand Up Comedian (2004), 90s Comedian (2005), 41st Best Stand-up Comedian (2007) and If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One (2009). Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, featuring stand-up shows and sketches, appeared on BBC2 in Spring 2009.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly as good as Tom O'Connor. Dec 26 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
An exceptionally insightful book. Lee's essentially transcribed three of his best shows... with a ludicrously detailed set of footnotes and phenomenal introductory chapters attached to each. A great insight into the creative mind, to be sure.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Study by a Genius Comic Artist Dec 24 2010
By Adam Saint - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Stewart Lee is without a doubt one of the most important and thoughtful artists working in comedy today. Reading his breakdown of specific shows so carefully wrought with such a literate and artful manifesto is an inspiration and education about the art form of comedy, and ultimately of his particular continuing significance in it. Not only compelling to anyone who loves comedy, it is a book for anyone who is interested in art, an artist's process, and the culture in which we live. (I highly recommend watching some of his DVD's before reading this to truly appreciate the stunning work he has done -- all of which is overshadowed by the shockingly funny outcome of his process. Though not necessary to enjoy this book, it will undoubtedly enhance the experience.) Lee is a comedian working at the highest levels-- by any index you choose -- of the artform of comedy, and this book is a treasure for both those who already appreciate it as well as those who may not yet understand the richness, depth and breadth of what the form of stand up comedy is capable. It makes me appreciate his unique brilliance even more than I already have - and that is saying quite a lot. I wish every comedian on earth would read this book, if only that they might begin to aspire to the kind of artistry that Stewart Lee brings to every word, every idea and every powerful, meaningful laugh in his work. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moon on a stick June 30 2011
By Ian - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Listen to a fat, middle class comedian complain about how the world unfairly treated him. What does he want?

The wit that Stewart Lee brings to things is a joy, his extensive foot notes let you see inside jokes you've probably heard him perform on TV. The back story stuff is great, as is Stewart moaning on that everything post the 80s was derivative of him or one of his select uber-comic's-comic friends.

Ultimately you shouldn't buy this book, that would just make Stewart popular, which he'd hate.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Stewart Lee fans and fans of stand up Dec 19 2012
By Robert W. Sollish - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is probably not for the casual fan, but if you appreciate Stewart Lee's stand up, this book gets you inside his head, and let's you understand the process that culminates in one of his stand up shows. There's very clearly method behind all the madness.

This book would also be great for anyone who wants more insight into what it means and what it takes to be a stand up comedian – at least one who takes their profession and craft seriously. The book is extremely generous with footnotes and appendices – it's all in there.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books about comedy ever written Sept. 22 2011
By Alexx - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is absolutely essential to anyone who is highly interested in stand-up comedy or who wants to be a stand-up themselves.

The above two categories are quite narrow, but if you fall into them then this book is a must have.

I would also recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Stewart Lee, however this book concentrates less on the man himself and more on his art and experiences related to his art.

If you are looking to find out "Who is the real Stewart Lee" perhaps you may be disappointed. You see into the man's mind but not into his heart.

That said, for anyone seriously into comedy, this book is one of, if not THE most important book ever written about comedy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Audiences, in my experience, are like cats..." Jan. 8 2011
By Amazon reviewer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"...They don't respect you if you seem too desperate for their affection, but disguise your desperate need for their love as a kind of bored indifference, and soon they will be eating out of your hand."

Entertaining and insightful, Stewart Lee is a comedian's comedian. As if his standup wasn't self-annotating and metatextual itself, the book offers consistently interesting anecdotes about the formation, mutation, and performance of his material, and bits of ethos about standup as an artform. A pleasant surprise was his reflections on past and current management, a topic rarely discussed openly by professionals. His recollection of seeing Gervais perform should resonate with anyone who has experienced professional jealousy.

Reading this book alongside Simon Pegg's laborious Nerd Do Well, made it clear just how much I appreciate Stewart's candor but also self-censorship to keep this book on track with relevant and intriguing information about his career and life as a standup. It's not about his parents, life as a teenage runaway train-hopping junkie tuba player, or whatever his past may have held. "The personal is absent from my work," as he says.

You won't end up like Ted Chippington, stew, not if your fans have anything to say about it. Can't wait for series 2 of comedy vehicle.
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