'My name is Michael Pennington, and I am not a comic character. I'm often mistaken for one though. You might know him by another name. Johnny Vegas.'
From BBC Dickens adaptations to Benidorm and Ideal to the PG Tips ads, Johnny Vegas has become one of Britain's best-loved comic actors. But before he'd ever drunk tea with a knitted monkey or made himself the exception that proves the rule in terms of the predictability of TV panel game regulars, Johnny Vegas was perhaps the most fearlessly confessional stand-up comedian this country has ever produced.
How did an eleven-year-old Catholic trainee priest from St Helens grow up to become the North West of England's answer to Lenny Bruce? That's just one of the many questions answered by this eye-poppingly frank memoir.
Becoming Johnny Vegas establishes its author as the poet laureate of the Pimblett's pie. Once you've finished this darkly hilarious tale of family, faith and the creative application of alcohol dependency, you'll never look at a copy of the Catholic men's society newsletter the same way again.
©2013 Johnny Vegas (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"This man is one of the true comic greats" (The Guardian)
This is, without doubt, the most enthralling and entertaining book I've listened to in years. I've a new found respect for Johnny, or rather Michael. The convergence of the characters, the full gory detail of the development of Johnny is intoxicating.
The Dr Death character is spine chilling and beautiful in equal measures.
Funny, sad and concerning but above all expertly crafted and wonderfully narrated.
I would certainly listen to this again. It was funny, touching and full of insight and humanity.
The shocking honesty
Faultless performance throughout
Laugh, cry, cringe, sadness, shock - a gambit of emotion
A celebrity autobiography for those that hate celebrity autobiographies - it's rare that someone has so much insight into their own behaviour, and Michael Pennington's honesty is what ultimately keeps you listening. You just want to give Michael a huge hug all the way through.
I am not a fan of Johnny Vegas the comedian. I like Micheal Pennington the actor - I like him in Ideal and Benidorm so I wasn't sure I was going to like this book - quite the opposite I loved it. The book is very honest. So much so that some parts make you cringe - but this is what makes this book special. He does not hide the tough times, the embarrassing times and the times where he messed it up, he doesn't sugar coat his experiences or make excuses for what he grew up to be. This makes it a rare insight into the person behind the persona. Most would hide this and it needs to be commended for being so open.
The experience late at night in the priest school........
Honesty raw open honesty.
As an autobiography one of the best written I have read in a long time (other than toast) so it would come in the top three of my autobiography list
When I first started to listen I was thinking "oh here we go this is a book giving excuses for the appalling behavior of the author". It is not at all. It is an incredible perceptive honest and very real account/ insight into an alter ego who was enabled to go wild. I had not really been exposed to Johnny Vegus as a stand up comic and know him for more of his serious acting and directing. It was fascinating and terrifying to get an insight into how Johnny came about and how two very different personalities could co exist and co depend. Mr Pennington is a clever ingenuous writer and manages to put this memoir together with huge skill.
If I had read the book the true natures of both Johnny and Micheal may not have have been so succinct. Listening to the author tell his own story's and often switching to a different person made me understand just were he was coming from.
Having not known Johnny Vegus as a stand up this book did make me realize just how bloody funny and amazing he was.
Fascinating insight into the comedian's (or comedians') mind(s) that is both amusing and often deeply moving.
The author's account of his life is captivating and his evolution into a performer ('I don't do jokes' as Johnny would say) is gripping.
The author's voice and inner voices add complete credibility to a very revealing account of Michael and Johnny's at-times shared mind and spotlight.
Sometimes I needed to gave the book's pacing respect: at times the emotions described are powerful and provoked a deep reaction in me I wasn't initially expecting. I became emotionally involved with the author's history and listening in one go would have foreshortened this experience.
Love Johnny or loathe him, I am sure you'll see him in a different light after listening to this book. My best listen in ages.
This is a no holds barred look into the life of Michael Pennington. At times it is a hard listen but it is also at times laugh out loud funny.
Refreshingly honest .
I have never really been a fan of Johnny Vegas but was intrigued when reading the blurb, other people's reviews and listening to the speech example of the book. I don't think I have read/listened to a book that's so frank and truthful about ones mind before. Michael Pennington describes how he struggled from a young age with so called voices in his head, the main one being Dr Death who would constantly tell him that he was going to die from the cough he had etc etc. He then goes on to describe his struggle at keeping his altered ego , later to be known as Johnny Vegas, at bay in the beginning but he then learns how Johnny can help him become a stand up comedian. Michael's highs and lows are all explained in this book, including his years at boarding school learning how to become a vicar, and for me it certainly changed my view of him. I still don't like Johnny Vegas but Michael Pennington I now have great respect for. I'm glad he read it himself as it just wouldn't have come across the same if read in somebody else's voice. Well Done Michael!!
I thought this book started extremely well and was a great story. The middle section gathered pace and was funny, but the ending seemed to just fizzle out. Lost its funny!
I've only ever seen clips of the stand up, I only really became aware of him following TV appearances. The story is unexpected but I found it compelling. Whether Johnny will ever tell his side of the story remains to be seen...
So often autobiogs are shrouded with a gloss that protects the author. So often they contrive selectively to share enough bad or embarrassing bits to make you feel you have seen the real person. Here though, in giving birth to 'the voice in his head', Johnny Vegas, Michael Pennington reveals far more about himself than you might expect and, at times, perhaps more than necessary. That said, it is refreshing to listen to what amounts to a deep and honest, heartfelt confessional that doesn't hold back.
In reading his own words, Pennington adds another dimension to the story. The vocal inflexion invokes anger, pity, sorrow, regret, joy and embarrassment which, in my opinion, creates greater impact and understanding of the complex character beneath the Vegas veneer.
This book is brutally honest at times and, for at least three chapters, the graphic references to 'self-gratification' might put some people off. Do persevere though. It's at times an intruiging insight into the issues of multiple personalities and the consequences of reliance on alcohol. By the final chapter I was exhausted but left with a respect for Pennington, whose cathartic use of this book may well be his attempt to shed the control and hold that his stage persona has had over him. The story ends too soon (yet the book felt quite long) and his marriages, children and life more recently is missing, which is a shame as I reckon Michael Pennington is a genuinely nice and funny chap who has more to say.
Funny, sad, intriguing, excellent!
Definitely worth getting to know the real man behind the madness of Johnny Vegas.
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