This Is your Life
A funny, satirical novel about fame follows the misadventures of Jimmy, a loser who manages to convince an inexperienced journalist that he is the latest sensation in comedy--a farce that gathers momentum each time the story is retold. Original.
Conway, a nondescript thirtysomething with a long-faded dream of telling jokes in public, starts the proceedings at the lowest point in his life - teaching school, spending his evenings with a old and grizzled collection of barroom bores (including his ex-girlfriend Nancy) and generally feeling miserable over never having gotten his one lucky break.
Things take a turn for the better when a local comedy legend, Billy Scrivens, with whom Conway has exchanged a fragment or two of small-talk while out running, drops down dead. Interviewed on television, where he is plausibly represented as the deceased's jogging companion, Jimmy suddenly discovers a tiny chink in the door of the closely guarded gateway to fame and celebrity. After snatching a ticket to Billy's funeral (paid for by the UK equivalent of People Magazine, and awash with the rich and famous) he convinces a gullible journalist that he is the latest underground comedy sensation, a performer so principled that he shuns TV and restricts himself to unscheduled appearances at out-of-the-way clubs. A stack of forged reviews from a phantom American tour does the rest. Courtesy of a rave profile in a national newspaper, his career takes off.
The subsequent rollercoaster ride whisks him all the way from a best new stand-up comedy award (where his acceptance speech loss of nerve - "Look, there's been a terrible mistake" - is taken as a riotous gag) to a dullard contribution to a nationally syndicated television show, and even a lucrative ad campaign. Success, inevitably, has its downside: the girls are too eager even for sex-starved Jimmy, and the pub regulars are over-awed by his sudden success.
Which all leads to Jimmy's big night at the Palladium, an ingenious finish where the carpet is pulled from beneath Jimmy's feet, which is credit to O'Farrell's resourcefulness, and his relish of the comic twist and detour.
Blackwell North Amer
One of England's best-selling satirical writers who has weekly columns in both The Guardian and The Independent, John O'Farrell has written "a wicked farce" (Daily Express) about the perils and pitfalls of fame.
It's a big night at the London Palladium. Jimmy Conway is about to perform his stand-up comedy routine in front of two thousand invited guests and millions more watching the event live on TV. He steps out blinking into the spotlights and waits for the applause to die down. He tries to appear confident but he can't help wondering whether he should have shared his little secret with someone by now. Jimmy has never performed anything before - ever.
How did he get here? Following the path of a national celebrity, the underachieving Jimmy convinces a naive journalist that he is the latest comedy phenomenon. He then embarks on a series of misadventures, bluffing and stumbling his way up the celebrity ladder, discovering as he goes that in their desperation to be associated with the next big thing, nobody has bothered to check his credentials. Quicker than you can say "flavor of the month," Jimmy Conway becomes a bogus celebrity, winning an award for something he never did, being photographed in magazines posing in someone else's house, and ultimately fooling, and making a fool of, the entire celebrity industry.
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