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Comedians are not normal. If they were normal they wouldn't want to go onstage and make thousands of strangers laugh every night. Beyond a Joke is the story of lives lived to excess: of alcohol, drugs, sex ... and running marathons.
Bruce Dessau is the king of comedy critics. He cut his critical teeth during the 1980s Alternative Comedy explosion in smoky rooms in the arse end of London, from Malcolm Hardee's infamous Tunnel Club to The Comedy Store before it became part of the respectable establishment. He has chaired the Edinburgh Comedy Awards panel twice - once when it was the Perrier Award, once when it was the if.comedy Award - and has regularly served on the judging committee, spending dawn to dusk to dawn again seeing stand-up comedy.
"An intriguing history of humour's bad boys claims that almost every great comedian is a damaged soul ... Delightful nuggets for the new wave of comedy enthusiasts" * Sunday Times * "Dessau shows us that comedians tend to be weird, or compulsive, or obsessive; they veer easily towards depression; and they mostly find themselves, at least for a period, desperately out of fashion. Beyond this, he doesn't overanalyse. He simply lines them up, one after the other, and recounts their strange lives" * Evening Standard * "Many intriguing tales of dark and outrageous dysfunction" * ShortList * "Entertaining insight and audacity - Dessau has been reviewing comedy for more than 30 years, and knows his stuff ... A fascinating look at the dark side of stand-up" * Time Out, 4 stars * "Its sporadic vulgarity leavened by wit and insight, the book mirrors the mood of a late-night gig." * Independent *