In fact, he is neither Daphne or Arthur. Family and old friends know him as Brian.
Arthur Smith is best known as a comedian, a broadcaster and an opening bat for Grumpy Old Men. But he has also been a West End playwright (his plays include An Evening with Gary Lineker), an English teacher, a failed rock star, a busker, a road sweeper and a bombsite boy in post-war Bermondsey.
Smith was one of the 'alternative comedians' who shook up light entertainment in the eighties and remains a legend at the Edinburgh Festival fringe where he has been fêted and arrested. His rumbustuous drinking years ended in Intensive Care where he narrowly survived an attack of acute pancreatitis. He gave up drink and got diabetes but continues to perform, write and act in peculiar ways and delight his fans.
This memoir encompasses a range of extraordinary, funny and often moving experiences by a unique and individual commentator on the peculiarities of modern society.
©2009 Arthur Smith; (P)2009 Random House Audiobooks
"The memoir of alternative comedian Arthur Smith takes him through the Bermondsey bombsites of his childhood and a career fuelled by drink, until he hits depressed middle age and near-fatal collapse. It's witty, self-aware and poignant: 'Emotional baggage never gets lost in transit.'" (The Observer)
"This is just about the best book... about �alternative� comedy � an intimate memoir that doubles as a vivid portrait of an age. The man that emerges isn�t all that different from Smith�s persona, affable and self deprecating. Yet the finest aspect of this heartfelt memoir isn�t his acute self-portrait, but the pictures of those around him � from friends and family to fellow comics. His talent has always been far too wayward for TV, but here he has done something much more remarkable."(The Independent)
"This memoir reflects on a life lived to its fullest. Scandalous, funny and occasionally tender."(Birmingham Mail)
"The book succeeds in the principal prerequisite of a showbiz biog in dishing some dirt � in this case � atop a Merton borough council bin wagon � and dropping lots of names..."(The Guardian)
As an inveterate Edinburgh Festival goer since the mid-1980's, Arthur Smith's (or Daphne Fairfax's) paths and my own have crossed many times. I've always thought that he was "OK" but not much more.
This erudite, charming and generally well read audio biog then, was a surprise. The major events in his life are already quite well known, but what makes this story stand out and be worth hearing, apart from being very well written, is the self deprecating but sincere tone he manages to set. His affectionate, yet honest portraits of the less well known people in his life (there is, as one would hope, plenty of name dropping too!) reveal a thoughtful man with a big heart and a clear understanding of his own failings.
I shall listen to this audiobook again, I know - and in that listening will discover delights missed at first hearing. I hope that he does an unabridged reading - not what I expected to write about a showbiz biog!
I always liked Arthur Smith but have only known him through his radio work, mainly Loose Ends. I didn't realise he wrote plays and had done so much stand up comedy. I thought his autobiography was very interesting, well written and well read. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it. A clever, drunken!! but thoroughly nice man. A joy to listen to his life so far.
Comedy and history (or a combination of both) are my listening choices. Oh, and Bill Bryson.
After being a little disappointed at my last listen to an autobiography I started to listen to this one with a little trepidation. However my fears were unfounded and I very much enjoyed listening to the gravelly voiced comedian tell me about his life. Like with other autobiographies by comedians, it’s not all funny and anecdotal and Mr Smith has not had all that easy in his quest for recognition (Steve Martin is another great example). But that said I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan or interested in the rise of alternative comedy.
Nice one Arthur!
Fan of biographies, starting to get to the obscure ones now.
I hate saying this about someones story of there life but this guys book is just very Dull.I have been aware of arthur for many years and never been impressed with his comedy, I love stand up and this guy has been on my radar as someone to try and see more of as i assume its me thats not quite getting the "godfather" of comedy.I spotted his book and thought what a great way to find out more. Laugh? i never. I dont have an agenda and maybe it is just me but it was seriously lacking in interesting content.The only point of interest was the story of Arthur and his dad travelling to Colditz where his dad was a pow. This could have been a bigger part of the book, but as it stands it was moving and humorous as his dad corrected the german tour guide on points of fact. bearing in mind he had been a past resident. I may try this one again in a few weeks in case it as "layers"! Ill update accordingly
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.