Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Bonkers: My Life in Laughs by Jennifer Saunders


Hello Readers,
I have a little soft spot for celebrity autobiographies on Audible especially when they are read by the person themselves. Bonkers: My Life in Laughs is Jennifer Saunders story and her narration adds to the comedy and compliments the book wonderfully. It honestly felt like Jennifer Saunders was sat in the room with me and at points, I couldn’t help but imagine Eddie from Ab Fab.

Jen states at the start of the book that there are a lot of vague memories, so time frames are lax and fluid. Jen also admits that she might not have the necessary skeletons in the closet that would bring her memoir up to the rollercoaster ride, tear-jerker level of autobiographies often put out there by celebrities these days. Jennifer has lived a fairly normal life, all things considered. She prefers a low-key life so don't expect drama and dirty laundry being aired. Jen has had her fair share of band luck and trials, but either they aren't that dramatic or she does an excellent job of under-dramatising them.

 I loved listening to her tell the story of her life and the fun tales of her childhood, the exciting adventures of her teens and early 20's, the way she stumbled into comedy

This book relates to all areas of Jen's talented life: her happy childhood; her friendship with Dawn French; her professional life – writing French and Saunders, and Absolutely Fabulous; her marriage and family life; and her recent illness. The first half of the book is about those early days, when Saunders was scrounging about for something to do with her life and Dawn French fell into her lap and how they developed their comedy act. It is wonderful to hear her speak about her various strong relationships with co-workers throughout the years. She talks about French and Saunders from the beginnings, doing stand-up and landing their first TV gig and how they were fortunate enough to come along at a time when a comedy troupe was in need of a female act, and how they met The Young One's gang. Jen talks about comic strip, and how thrilled she was when she got a parking space at the BBC. I would say that story in particular shows how down to earth Jen is, but there are lots of wonderful stories that really just speak masses about her character and Familiar faces pop up left and right. 

The book is full of insights, personal anecdotes and extremely funny situations. For example, my favourite story completely stripped down to the bare bones was when Jen, Ruby Wax, Goldie Horne and her assistant were in India and Jen accidentally drank water from The River Ganges Ruby shouted ‘Jennifer, you are going to die.’ On the way back to the hotel there’s an incident with Goldie’s Assistant and a dog bite. Then they are all walking back to the street to only find one rickshaw and the driver told them to all pile in. He was a thin man pedalling an ancient rickshaw with four very well-fed women in the back. The journey Uphill got slower and slower, until eventually Ruby got out and decided to push and obviously a passing cow, with horns, headbutted her bum. Once back at the hotel Jen went to her room and drank a bottle of whisky. Her mother had always said it was good for killing things, so she took her advice. Apart from a cracking hangover, she had no real ill effect. I had to listen to this section around three times the first because I couldn’t stop laughing (not at the dog incident the rest).

It is also very moving in places. Jennifer Saunders has been a very private person and her book reveals just enough of her life, without revealing everything and Her account of battling breast cancer is as honest as it is uplifting and Jens refusal to accept pity and to just carry on with her two-woman show, through sickness and depression.

I have to admit that I am a big fan of Jennifer Saunders before, I am an even bigger fan now and I would recommend this book for fans. As someone who can’t tell a straight story without at least 6 tangents this book was great cause Jen does the same thing. There were so many fascinating snippets about her work life and her personal life and about her work itself. She even told funny stories about her time working on Shrek 2. Jen tells the story of a self-confessed lazy daydreamer who through a little luck and a lot of talent climbed the ranks of female performers and built a successful comedy career. Jens wit and humour shone through in every tale and I thoroughly enjoyed my listening experience. Her tone and voice make the book better than it probably would be just in writing and makes the humour come across as it should as well.

I went to the Ab Fb premier just to see Jen, Dawn and Joanna and it was everything I thought it would be and more.

L x


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